Spotlight On… Kevin Lee

Sitting squarely in the middle of a Venn diagram of audiences who watch “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” and “Check It Out! With Dr. Steve Brule” is me.

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Recently, these two shows came together in a thrilling crossover not seen since NBC’s “Hurricane Saturday.” Won’t you join me in my diagram to enjoy my favorite shows together?

“The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” comes from Andy Cohen’s alternate-reality sausage factory that strings together dramatic scenes of rich ladies having dinner parties, arguing, and wearing high heels. It’s a diversion that penetrates human man’s need for escapism and it particularly sets my spirit free when I’m enjoying it with the emotional ambrosia of Garden Herb Triscuits and rosé.

I first laid eyes on Kevin Lee on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, planning Pandora Vanderpump’s wedding. With waxen skin and hair of jet, Kevin is an over-the-top kind of guy.

According to the “On Screen” credits on his website, Kevin was the inspiration for Martin Short’s wedding planner in the 1991 remake of “Father of the Bride.” Considering it takes years to develop a solid reputation in the party planning business, as well as to gain notoriety worthy of parody, this makes Kevin approximately 71 years young.

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On the other side of the couch, you have “Check It Out! With Dr. Steve Brule,” a brilliantly bizarre comedy styled after a poorly-produced cable access show. Dr. Brule, played by John C. Reilly, started out as a blundering but likeable doofus on “Tim and Eric,” and has devolved into a deeply unhinged ogre in the recent third season. Characteristics like banjo eyes peering through greasy eyeglasses and pronouncing an extra “R” for every other word are the fine fondant topping layers of awkwardness. Sometimes the sound of my laughter is really just masking the haunting echoes of humanity’s darkest corners, and this also sets my spirit free.

One of Dr. Brule’s special guests this season was Kevin Lee portraying a different version himself, an interior designer named Jeffrey Brown. Part of the magic of “Check it Out” is that sometimes it’s difficult to say whether or not the guests are in on the joke.  Kevin is in on it this time,  and it’s 2 minutes and 30 seconds of my favorite television of all time.

Ugh the video won’t embed and it’s taken me a month to write this post so enjoy this external link to the video and some screen shots.

http://video.adultswim.com/check-it-out-with-dr-steve-brule/special-presentation-home-2.html

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It’s difficult for me to articulate, but I’m forever intrigued by aesthetic intentions versus what an audience subjectively experiences. I think it has something to do with the nuances of popular culture as bad art, and the ability to deconstruct a subject into deeper meaning and context. I live for the gray area that combines a complete lack of self-awareness and a very specific persona. I believe this nexus of narcissism and celebrity includes statistical anomalies like Keanu Reeves and Dave Navarro, as well as Kevin Lee.

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I just realized John C. Reilly also stars in the film “We Need to Talk About Kevin.” I think I saw it on an airplane.

Video Bonus: Kevin enjoying a holiday buffet.

Film Capsule: “This Is 40″

“Thai food gives me diarrhea on the toilet” / white rage / “I’m old” “No you’re not I’m old” / Pregnant AGAIN?!?!?! / pop culture references / “What about MY needs?!” / we learn by example / did I ever love you? / sexy references / Men are from Uranus!! But I’m just a woman / You can’t escape your relatives / Who farted – it wasn’t me!

Are You Ready For Some Oscars?!

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The Super Bowl of sports took over the streets last weekend, and now it’s time for the Super Bowl of movies – the Oscars!

Hollyweird is at it again with another slew of obscure, cerebral features and unknowns jostling for the spotlight. For weeks now, critics and voters have been fighting against all odds to bring the rightful winners to justice. But it’s time for that emotional roller coaster to wind down. We’ve voted with our dollars at the box office, now it’s time for the Academy voters to vote with their ballots. The tension is palpable!

I don’t get out too much, but I think I saw a subway ad that said Allen Degeneres will be hosting. Not sure who that is, but I’m sure he’ll do great. I don’t have any insider info as to why “Jimmy” James Franco was too busy to do it this year, but either way he needs to quit prankin’ around and get back to screens of all sizes!

There will be lots of questions in the air that night. Will someone make a political statement? Will Julia R and George C dazzle the pre-game show with their riffing? Will Soon-Yi have a wardrobe malfunction? I just love speculating on and sometimes even watching the excitement of this exclusive industry unfold. It’s gonna be great.

Okay, enough pussy footing around! Let’s get to it.

Ladies are seemingly everywhere you look in cinema – it was definitely the Year of the Woman, as women filled the titular roles in “Her” and “Philomena.” Women also crowd the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress categories.

I guess “Diversity” is the name of the motion picture game!

It was another year of the sequel, and another year of the snub. Blockbusters like “Ronin 47” and “Hunger Games: Catch a Fire” blew out the box offices even more than they did the first time around. Remakes like “Rush” heated things up as well. However, much like the maligned holiday dessert, non-sequel “Fruitcake Station” couldn’t get any nibbles even by naming the main character Oscar.  “Inside Llewelyn Davis” sounded like an adult film so I skipped that one. And I can’t help myself, but I have to give away a huge spoiler alert for “Jeff Daniels’ The Butler:” He did it – and he’d do it again.

Let’s jump into the Best Picture category with all-around fave American Russell – director David O. that is! Are there categories for coolest wig or best cleavage? If so, and I was representing “American Hustle” in a court of law I would advise them to plead “no contest!” Speaking of law, how about that Jennifer? As part of the Law acting dynasty that that includes Victoria, Joseph and Martin, she’s just gotta be a shoe-in.

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You know the SAG Awards? This is more my speed.

But cinema wasn’t all jean shorts and groovy disco balls this year. If you’ve never seen a movie before, your first one may as well be “Wolf on Wall Street,” but if you have, maybe think twice. A piece of popcorn got stuck in my gum as I watched this endlessly bloated, bloviating, poorly edited, musically UNsupervised monstrosity. I thought it was a toothache so I went to the dentist (I was overdue for my checkup anyway). The hygienist removed the popcorn and my pain was relieved – but my face sure was red. I think there was a little egg on it as well (figuratively speaking, but only the hygienist knows the truth).

In sum, I think Martin “Swayze” Scorsese and Leonardo “da Vinci” diCaprio served up one for the dogs – woof! (My follow-up at the periodondist was no picnic either.) Yet it’s everybody’s sweetheart story and I’m just one person so I’ll leave the voting to the pros.

I’ve been reading “Last Night at the Viper Room,” and I can’t figure out if they mean last night as in 12-24 hours ago, or last as in final? I’ll let you know.

Speaking of, bad boy Johnny Depp eschewed his signature role this year and handed it off to Barkhad Abdi in “Captain Ron Phillips,” proving copyright laws are no joke! However, all eyes will surely be on Seinfeld’s Yul Vazquez as he walks the red carpet – let’s see if he’s wearing “the ribbon.”

As for Tom Hanks, all right already! We get it – you’re a chameleon and all around nice guy, and you wanted to reprise your role in “Saving Private Banks,” but it’s time to free up some categories for the other guys.

For this year’s contenders, the landscape of America is a recurring character. “Nebraska” takes us to Bruce Springsteen’s home state for a look at what could have been, while native Texan Matthew McConaghey takes us home to kick back a couple of cold Lone Stars, and also to contract AIDS in Richard Linkletter’s “Dallas.”

Question: if someone described you as the female Jonah Hill, would you be flattered or offended? Food for thought.  P.S. Who is his dentist?

“Her” was a fine flick, with a nice performance from Mr. Oscar snubber himself Joaquin Phoenix. Et tu, Leaf? (tying it back in to the Viper Room). But for me it was all about Spike Jonze’s star turn in “The Wolf on Wall Street” that should have set tongues wagging. Break out alert! Maybe stick to your day job Spike, but maybe also make a little room in your schedule for some more moonlighting in small but memorable roles.

And of course, stars that burn twice as long burn half as bright. The starriest stars on the walk of fame of life that were extinguished will be honored in the annual death reel. I haven’t been following the obits so hopefully there are no rude awakenings when I tune in.

Now on to the rest of the best… of my picks.

Animated Feature Film

With everyone on the east coast tired of old man winter, I think “Frozen” is looking at a freeze-out. I’ll go with “The Wind Rises” because it sounds like spring is in the air.

Documentary Feature

I like “20 Feet From Stardom” because everyone loves a success story.

Documentary Short Subject

I’ll go with “Facing Fear” because I can just imagine a duo of A-list presenters like John Leguizamo and Renee Zellwegger leaning in to the mic to forever change the lives of these filmmakers.

Foreign Language Film

I’m liking Italy’s “The Great Beauty” to take home the golden man. Does anyone know if it’s a sequel to “Life is Beautiful?” I think we could ALL use a little more Roberto Bagnini in our lives.

Short Film Animated

I like “Room on the Broom” because it rhymes with “womb” and it sounds witchy, hence, The Year of the Woman, but I’m going to go with “Get a Horse!” because it has an unforgettable title. It’s anyone’s game though.

Sound Mixing

Everyone knows there’s no sound in space, so I’m going to pass on “Gravity” for this one and give it to “The Hobbit.” I mean, why not?

Music

Let’s all pray Pharrell checks his outrageous hat at the door, and also leaves some of the limelight for U2’s version of Sade’s “Ordinary Love.”

Adapted Screenplay

In terms of history, slavery is a human atrocity. But in terms of adapted screenplays, it can’t be beat. I vote once, twice, “12 Years a Slave.”

Well, I could do this all day, but I just found out the Oscars don’t air until March 2nd, not this Sunday like I woke up thinking. Last week I thought the Super Bowl was this week. What’s next?

Spotlight On…The Sweaters of Detective Sarah Linden

I’m mostly through season 2 of AMC’s The Killing (check local listings or your local Netflix) and it’s a fine television program. A better name for the series might be “It’s Always Raining in Seattle.” I hope the crew has some good watertight equipment and sturdy weatherproof shoes, or they’ll end up taking a bath – literally! Although they could very well have financial troubles for all we know.

Speaking of weather and clothes, it’s a notoriously cold day in New York City history today, with a projected high of 15 degrees. One thing that’s heating things up though is social media – everybody is talking about this weather.

Well, it’s cold out there all right, and I’ve got The Killing on my mind, so I figure there’s never been a better time for a Spotlight On… The Sweaters of Detective Sarah Linden.

Get me into any one of these sweaters on a cold winter’s day!

Toward the end of the first season I finally noticed that she only wears cozy, bulky sweaters underneath her detective-style anoraks. Because my finger is on the pulse I thought, “I bet some internet a-hole made a Tumblr for all of her sweaters. And if someone didn’t, then maybe I should be that a-hole!” Well folks, there’s two kinds of people in this world: people who make Tumblrs and people who write about making Tumblrs. Maybe there’s even three or four kinds of people, but I don’t want to bite off more than I can chew.

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Detective Sarah Linden is a real pill. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t even know what Tumblr is. She’s humorless, she chews nicotine gum all the live long day, she doesn’t eat right, and she’s always losing track of her son. I don’t want to say she’s a bad parent because if she was a man no one would care, but she’s a pretty bad parent. I think she’s what the Hollywood insiders call flawed.

But her sweaters sure are warm and cozy. The original Danish series “Forbrydelsen” reveals a similar if not superior sweater game.

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For more on the sweaters of Detective Sarah Linden, Vanity Fair has a probing think-piece on Mireille Enos with a poignant sweater anecdote.

New Series: House Reviews

It’s a whole wide world out there all right – but what if your whole wide world is inside? Mine sure is. Not only is Old Man Mercury showing off his limbo skills (SPOILER ALERT: How low can he go? To a wind chill of 11), I have a predilection for homebody rocking courtesy of my Cancer personality profile.  And with a newfangled baby in tow, I need to calculate the ROI before deciding to leave the house. These factors are blossoming into borderline agoraphobia. Aside: Is angoraphobia a thing? If so – don’t tell Ed Wood!

This is what it feels like when I leave the house

And you know what? One man’s stifling isolation is another lady’s paradise. I love not leaving my house during business hours, but don’t worry, I’m not creepy about it. I keep my person, my child, and the house nice and clean, I make healthy meals, and I’ve cultivated a rich catalog of song and dance routines that I perform for my baby. I think it’s a real nice place to be.

Being alone with one’s thoughts is the life of a writer, and one of these thoughts is, “I used to write reviews about different snacks in the vending machine at work, but now I never leave the house. I should start reviewing the objects and places inside my own home. Everybody is dying to read that.”

So here I am, about to take off your “thinking cap” and replace it with a “relaxing beret,” and give you a glimpse inside my world. Sit back, emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, and get a load of what I’ve got in my house – and what I think about it.

You might be saying to yourself, “Opinions are like children – you think yours doesn’t stink, so who are you to judge?” And I might respond, “The internet was made for having things to say, so here I am.”

Today’s House Review is: The main toilet.

This toilet is okay, but I don’t want to disparage it because if I talk smack and it stops working I’ll have only the power of my mind and the Law of Attraction to blame.

I think when our place was being built, the builders used the toilet lid as a place to rest their tools (now it’s a place to rest one’s stools). It’s very scratched. When I was a kid I thought certain things were the epitome of luxurious living, including Entenmann’s, water beds, and padded toilet seats. We should get a padded toilet seat instead.

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Clockwise from left: A plunger just in case; lid damage; brand of toilet

The flush power on this puppy isn’t too shabby, and it can usually unclog itself after a particularly active morning. I’m not a fan of its lines; I like a bigger, boxier commode, and I feel like it sits kind of low to the ground. Toilet, I’ll give you 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Good Housekeeping

Good housekeeping is more than just a magazine, lifestyle, and thing on your to-do list. It’s also the backbone of many beloved television sitcoms of many moons ago. Here are some tips to help you tidy up your abode in the style of these favorite characters. Transform yourself into the total package for yourself and your family and be Nell Harper in the bedroom, Mrs. Garrett in the kitchen, and Tony Micelli in the parlor.

NELL HARPER

Bring some of Nell’s sass into your life and give yourself a break. Whether she was vacuuming out the fish tank, answering the phone “Carnegie Hall” (even though it was the Kanisky residence – ha!!), or just there as a throwback comedic foil to the white family she worked for, Nell frequently saved the day with her fresh, take-no-prisoners attitude.

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If you revisit “Gimme a Break,” it really is not what one could call “timeless.” It’s way too serious to the point of being abysmal. They really dialed down the comedy in these situations, and everything I thought I loved about this show must have only been in my mind because it’s barely watchable.  (But I wouldn’t mind seeing a “Spotlight On…” Dolph Sweet sometime in the near future. What do you say, me?)

Housekeeper Rating: 2 Feather Dusters

EDNA GARRETT

From posh upper Manhattan to bucolic Peekskill, Mrs. Garrett brings extensive experience to her households. She was equally deft at problem-solving the woes of two urban boys who have nothing but the jeans, genes, and/or dreams, as well as the troubles of female prep-school students.

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“The Facts of Life” is another one of these shows that doesn’t stand the test of time and its’ life lessons are dismal.

Housekeeper Rating: 3 Cans of Kaboom!

TONY MICELLI

Tony could do it all. He was a powerhouse dad, a dynamo cook, and the envy of Fairfield. His sense of team spirit came from his days on the St. Louis Cards – and is a real boon to running a household. His Italian dishes are a must for busy days, and his attention to detail, like vacuuming the curtains, is really what makes the Bower household run so smoothly.

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“Who’s the Boss?” stands the test of time. We see a positive male role model making a brand new life around the bend and being a skillful homemaker, while Angela “leans in” as the president of the 12th largest advertising company, and later at Tony’s encouragement, opens her own namesake agency.

Housekeeping Rating: 1 Variety Pack of Magic Erasers

So next time your housekeeping reality is a dark vortex of disgusting filth, there’s no food in the house, and the children are wearing torn, tattered clothing, step back, take a deep breath, and turn on the television for the answers, provided these shows are in syndication. Otherwise, bookmark this post!

Who is Bob Benson?

Fact: the internet is a great place to air out your mind’s eye. Let’s do this!

I’m not so into weighing in on the same old things everyone else is, and none of us are here for that. However, one pop culture phenomenon I have stuck in my craw is the character Bob Benson on Mad Men.

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Who is he? Of course the internet has already asked that question many times over. I’m forever hearing it last when it comes to real-time TV. In fact, I like to delay my DVR viewings for marathon slob sessions, so I’m not up on recaps and I’ve adapted modern-times habits like not reading twitter too carefully on certain days of the week to avoid spoilers.

Things I usually do instead of reading recaps or watching episodes unfold in real time:

- Gently defocus my eyes while I’m working to give everything a dream-sequence feel
- Abstractly wonder what are all of the things I’ve forgotten
- Stare into space (that kind of combines the first two)

But for some reason I have a passionate theory about who this character is, and I would like to share my thought. I simply think he’s pulling a Kramer.

I can’t believe I’m posting this nearly 48 hours after the last episode has aired. Are you hearing it last, or just differently? I don’t know if I’m ready for this ride!