Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Notes on Pop Culture: Olympics, Good Reads, 'To Rome with Love' & 'The Newsroom'

Olympic Opening Ceremonies: With the exception of the Queen-James Bond thing, I generally disliked not only the London Olympics' Opening Ceremonies, but the way NBC not only riddled the broadcast with ads (seriously, way too many, way too often), had horrifically stupid scripts and replaced footage of the ceremony with a pre-taped Ryan Seacrest interview with Michael Phelps. I was so annoyed that I went to bed way before they were even halfway through the alphabet announcing the arrival of the nations' athletes.

Despite my initial griping, other than Ryan Lochte flashing that god awful diamond grill after he won his first gold of the London games, I've been pretty much into the Olympic competitions, specifically keeping tabs on the U.S. women's soccer team (love Rapinoe, Wambach), the U.S. gymnastics teams (too bad for the guys in team competition), the U.S. basketball teams and the swimming competitions.

And how fabulous was it to see the U.S. women's gymnastics team shine? While watching Massachusetts home gal Aly Raisman deliver a fabulously powerful floor routine that put the exclamation point on the team's performance, I had to keep reminding myself how very young these gymnasts really are and how much pressure they're all under to perform so well.

Totally Worth Reading: The New York Times Book Review's "How to Write" essay by Colson Whitehead.

As a writer myself, I loved the "rules" Whitehead offered up, particularly the second one: "Don't go searching for a subject, let your subject find you. You can't rush inspiration. How do you think [Truman] Capote came to 'In Cold Blood?' It was just an ordinary day when he picked up the paper to read his horoscope, and there it was -- fate." (Truman saw the article about the brutal murder of a Kansas family and that set into motion a years-long odyssey that would become the classic book In Cold Blood.)
To Rome with Love: Caught Woody Allen's latest, To Rome with Love with a pal of mine. Weird, weird very uneven flick. Sure, we laughed out loud a couple of times, pondered Allen's none too subtle anti-reality TV/anti-celebrity message, but Midnight in Paris it was, sadly, not. That was disappointing.

However my appetite was whet for another film that I saw previewed before To Rome: The Words starring Bradley Cooper, slated to be released in September. A writer passes off someone else's manuscript as his own and suffers the consequences. Certainly not lacking in a ripped-from-the-headlines feel to it . . .

The Newsroom: Maybe it's misplaced longing for HBO's old show In Treatment, but I really enjoyed the latest episode of The Newsroom (reviewed it here) featuring Will McAvoy going to a therapist to work through his Mount Everest of personal issues.

Going out and buying an engagement ring and pretending that he's kept it locked in his desk for four years as he nurtured but pointedly did not try to heal his broken heart? Going after and humiliating a Santorum aide on the air as if the guy didn't know how to stand up for himself and was unaware of the senator's position on gays and lesbians, thinking that he, Will was, in the end, being this man's hero? Yeah, I'd say Will could do with tons more treatment, which I think would make for some emotionally in depth scenes.

What have you been watching and reading this week?

Image credit: Joon Mo Kang/New York Times.

No comments: