Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen, this week I went and saw the latest suspense thriller, The Purge. In an effort to curb escalating violence in the United States, the government passes a law that for one day out of the year, known as the Purge, all crime is legal, and citizens are able to cleanse themselves of their bitter, pent-up hostility by aggressively beating the crap out of other people. Well isn’t that just nice. One family gets caught in the middle of some drama mamma, when one of the children lets in a homeless man into their house that was being pursued by a group of snotty-nosed prep school kids. Will the family save themselves and hand the man over or will they have a crisis of conscience and stand up for the decency of humanity and all that bull crap.
Dear Lawd Ladies and Gentlemen, boy did this movie suck, it sucked, it SUCKED, beyond the telling of it. I mean it was SO BAD. How bad was it you ask? Oh let’s see, let’s take some well-to-do, uppity, waspy white family from the suburbs, who thinks that they are better than everyone else, because they don’t partake in the Purge, and then through a series of unfortunate events, they learn they are just as violent as euuurvybody else. Woop-Di-Do. I felt no deep connection to the family at all and spent the majority of the film, hating the annoyingly obnoxious children as they repeatedly committed acts of stupidity to not only put their lives in danger, but their family’s as well. Lesson of the day ladies and gentlemen, do not have children, for children will moronically let strangers into your house eventually leading to your gruesome death and all because it is the right thing to do. This flat, boring, and superficial film did little to explore or address our society’s relationship with violence and instead turned an interesting concept into a Die Hard with a Vengeance film. What was perhaps most terrifying was sitting in a theater, packed full of recently liberated high school students, and having them laugh as vulgar, gratuitous, acts of violence sprawled across the screen; that ladies and gentlemen, told me more about society’s relationship with violence, than this film ever did. I give The Purge, 1 and a half Xs out of 5, just a really sad, sorry excuse for a film that failed on so many accounts.
Oscar Ceezon Review of “Now You See Me” - CLICK FOR AUDIO PLAY
It doesn’t take much to titillate this movie critic, so when “Now You See Me” combined two of my favorite passions in life – Magic and Morgan Freeman – I knew I needed to see this film. Now You See Me tells the tale of 4 street magicians, brought together by some unknown benefactor, to pull off one of the greatest feats in magical history. If the band of magicians are successful, they will gain admittance into one of the most exclusive magical societies in the world; The Eye. However, the FBI and a former magician turned magic-trick debunker are attempting to foil the 4 horsemen as they are called – ohh that’s so original. Who is in control? Who is orchestrating this entire ordeal? Who will have the last laugh as the final curtain falls and the smoke clears?
I am not going to lie; this was a hard one to critique. There were many things about this film that I absolutely loved. The magic obviously, but more than that, Morgan Freeman providing a play-by-play analysis of each trick was like liquid crack gold to my ears. The visuals were absolutely stunning and audiences can prepare for an action-packed thrill ride that oddly enough reminded me of the Fugitive – without the likeable Tommy Lee Jones’ characters. For me though, all the actors were playing the same stupid characters they always play– Dave Franco as the immature kid, Woody Harrelson the sex-starved, slightly drunken old man, Jesse Eisenberg as the annoying, fast-talking punk who you just want to slap silly so he will stop talking. Similarly, there was no character development throughout the entire movie; the characters’ wants and desires were unexplored and they all had little to no depth about them. Also for the love of bejesus, 99% of people seeing this film are watching it for the magic and couldn’t care less about some stupid love story that writers decide to throw in at the last minute, I don’t know WHY, is it because you believe we couldn’t possibly sit and watch a film without random strangers, thrown together by circumstance, bump nasties at the end. I DON’T CARE. I give Now You See Me 3Xs out of 5 – the magic is by far the most exceptional part of this film, and everything else is kind of just meh.
I’m going to be upfront. I hate staff meetings. I loathe them with a fiery passion of gawd. Seeing as how there is a general perception that staff meetings are a necessity for the running of a club, organization, and/or business I have had to endure many over the years. I have experienced a myriad of tactics, formats, and styles all intended to achieve the same goal; make staff meetings suck less. Unfortunately, many of these fell flat of their intended goal. I do have a grand theory or hypothesis per say, to make staff meetings seem less like a torture devised to make your stay in Purgatory that much more painful. The idea is simple; staff meetings should not last longer than an hour – and I always try to get out early.
Now this may seem like an insurmountable task. What you say, that can’t be done. How could me and my staff possibly say everything we need/want to say in under an hour? The truth is you probably won’t. In my experience, most commentary made during a staff meeting is pointless filler noise anyway - people really do just love to hear the sound of their own voice. Rome was not built in a day and likewise you will not be able to tackle every issues facing your group, team, and business in one-hour. However rising to the challenge of sticking to a one-hour staff meeting will force people to reprioritize what is most pressing as well as be succinct and concise with their views and opinions. Here are some simple, quick steps to get you on your path toward one-hour staff meetings.
1. Start your meeting on time … for God’s sake … please start your meeting on time. Time is a precious commodity and people will quickly become aggravated should they feel their time is being wasted. If you schedule a meeting to begin at 1pm, do attempt to be there at 12:55pm so you can be prepared to start at 1. Do not rush into a meeting at 1:20pm muttering apologies about how busy you are … wake up … everyone is busy … try harder at life.
2. Decide what type of meeting you are having. Is your meeting information sharing or idea generating? Does the material you are about to present pertain to the whole staff or just a subsection? Deciding this in advance will determine the format of your meeting, the scope, and who needs to be in attendance.
3. Agenda, Agenda, Agenda! People may resent them. People may even make fun of them. However, meandering your way through a staff meeting without an agenda is like navigating hostile waters, at night, without a compass, a map, a sense of direction, or a boat for that matter. You are perilously at the mercy of the elements. Should someone try to introduce a topic that is not on the agenda, a strong facilitator can politely say “you raise an excellent point, but I would like to table that topic until next staff meeting, so that we have enough time to properly discuss it and get through the rest of the items on our agenda”.
4. Speaking of which, you need a strong facilitator to manage and direct the staff meeting. For sometimes you need someone to, in the kindest way possible, tell someone to “shut the fuck up”
5. Have clear boundaries around the end of your meeting. If people want to linger after the meeting and discuss little Suzie’s graduation from the first grade, they are more than welcome to, but for those of us who don’t give a shit – nothing against Suzie and her scholastic accomplishments – stating that the meeting is over gives us allowance to leave, should we choose.
In the event that your boss refuses to incorporate any of the aforementioned steps into the next staff, then feel free to amuse yourself with a game of “Staff Meeting Bingo” so you don’t bash your head against the conference room table.
This week I decided to relive a bit of my childhood and go see the new animated film, EPIC. Having recently lost her mother, MK goes to live with her estranged father in the middle of God knows where. MK’s father is consumed by his life’s work; a belief that tiny little men live in the forest and ride around on birds and stuff. MK is skeptical of this world until she finds herself miniaturized and smack dab in middle of it. While MK searches for a way home she learns that the forest is under attack from a dark and insidious force that threatens to disrupt the delicate balance of nature.
Ok, let’s be honest, EPIC is the awkward love child of Avatar and Fern Gully, yet lacks the imagination and messages about environmental conservation of its parents.The movie features an impressive cast of celebrities including Steven Tyler as a wise, yet slightly cracked out, caterpillar. EPIC was at times enjoyable to watch but didn’t quite captivate me like Avatar and Fern Gully did. Audiences are left with no clear morals or lessons to gleam from the tale. The film is basically about a despondent teenager who learns that there’s no place like home … So basically it’s Wizard of Oz without the awesome singing or Judy Garland. Perhaps I was expecting too much, especially from an animated children’s movie, but I feel with the title EPIC, I assumed I could anticipate some … well … EPICNESS. Perhaps if the film had been named Okay, Under Whelming, or complete ripoff, I might have been in a different mindset going into the movie. I give EPIC 2 and a half Xs out of 5 – a fine film to bring annoying small children to, but this movie made me regret not going and seeing Fast and Furious 6 and that’s saying something.
For an audio recording of my review click the link below to check out my Sound Cloud profile:
Pew Research Center recently released study that finds women to be the “sole or primary income provider in 40% of households with children”; a fact that is causing certain sections of the conservative populace to quiver with unimaginable fear. Instead of interpreting the statistics as a triumphant success of women managing work and personal life, the good old boys at Fox News would have you believe that this is one the blatant signs of the impending apocalypse. Women ascending to the role of primary “breadwinner” certainly means a breakdown of the traditional family unity, traditional values, and a complete and utter destruction of human society as we know it.
Of course, the fine gentlemen at Fox News turned to science to validate their points. They vouch that women having a dominant role in the household violates natural law for our evolutionary predecessors all lived in patriarchal societies. Ahhh yes, males asserting their masculinity by butting heads, beating the crap out of each other, or flashing their flamboyant feathers. We have all heard of the expression the “Alpha Male” a principle that has certainly governed human society for … like … ever.
Of course, if you are going to mention the numerous animal kingdoms that have males as their leaders it would be only FAIR AND BALANCED to mention those few pesky animal communities that have women in charge – I’m sure they only got that job through affirmative action or some other liberal invention. Well let’s see, Bonobos – who are supposed to be our closet evolutionary relatives – Elephants – smart, never forget – Lions – even though there is an alpha male, females do all the hunting – numerous insects – where the females are often larger and eat the males after they have served their purpose – and Manatees just to name a few.
Like the Bible Fox News, you cannot pick and choose some parts of “science” that further your point and agenda and yet completely ignore the volumes of literature that state gays are great parents, Plan B is safe, and abstinence-only education helps NO ONE.
Courtesy of the fabulous Rachel Maddow and her blog, here is a video commentary about how women as breadwinners is causing the downfall of society as we know it.
My latest rant is a letter, dare I say plea, to parents out there considering taking their obnoxious incubators of viral plagues to the movies. I’m not saying that I loathe children; I loathe anybody who single-handedly ruins my cinematic experience I just paid $13 for … Is what I’m saying. I understand parents, that you believe the movies to be a reprieve; a quiet sanctuary from the relentless barrage of questions your child throws at you. However, for many of us the movies are a sacred space of entertainment; a venue that gives voice and form to our wildest dreams and imagination. Your obnoxious child, flailing about on the ground, screaming so loud that the Heavenly Father above, can hear it is ruining us non-breeders movie experience.
Now, as you will learn in my rant, it’s not that I am saying you can NEVER come to movies anymore if you are the proud parent of a child under the age of 12. All I’m saying is in a theater with 200 empty seats why did you – and your family – decide that absolutely had to SIT NEXT TO ME.
… YOU CAN’T SIT WITH US
Sorry, I had to
Here is an audio file of my rant:
Introducing a new segment for my blog. I typically reserve my flamboyant reviews for television, film, and any number of popular media. However, as someone who spends a great deal of time in the non-profit world, I thought I would combine my two lives into one; sassy gay reviews and organizational efficiency. Each episode of this series will focus on ways to improve your organizational efficiency whether it be making your staff meetings more bearable or the Do’s and Don’ts of interviews.
I thought for the first post, inspired by a conversation with a co-worker, I would focus one of my all-time favorite interview questions; What is your greatest weakness?
The reason why this question is my favorite is because of the ridiculous, and often asinine, responses people give to said question.
The worst answer one could possibly give is I’m too hard of a worker. Variations of said answer include, but are not limited to, “I sometimes love my job too much”, “I’m a perfectionist”, and “Sometimes I forget to eat because I get so wrapped up in work”. As an interviewer, anytime someone utters these words – or anything similar – in response to the aforementioned question, I believe their answer to be a complete and total cop out.
Look, I don’t deny that probably a fair number people believe any of the above mentioned answers are correct and valid. Besides, when trying to present your best face at an interview, who wants to relate some answer like “I don’t take feedback well”, “I have anger management issues”, or “I generally hate people”? However, saying “I work too hard” makes you sound like an obnoxious asshat. To me, it sounds like a prepared, stock-piled answer, one that you have perfected and have delivered at a number of interviews before your resume came across my desk. What this tells me is that either you are (A) Not consciously aware of your own faults or (B) Are trying to give me the answer that you think I want instead of the truth.
A better way to phrase what you are trying to get at that will make me – and probably other employers – hate you less is to say “I sometimes have difficulty drawing boundaries between work and personal life”, “I sometimes get wrapped up in a project, to the detriment of my own self-care”, or “I, at times, fixate on the details, trying to make everything perfect, that I lose the big picture”. These answers actually make it seem as though you have a weakness, realize how this weakness impacts your work and your life, and probably have some consciousness around what you need from an employer or fellow colleagues to ensure that work at an optimal level.
What are your thoughts? How have or would you answer this question in an interview setting?
Though I now enjoy going to the gym on a frequent basis – this didn’t always use to be the case – I still find that sometimes I lack the motivation to drag my ass the 6 blocks or so to the gym. I have found that if I have a phenominal playlist of “jams” to listen to, I can force myself to endure the workout. You know you’re gay when you have a playlist entitled “BROADWAY WORKOUT” on your iPhone. Here is the list of songs that comprise said playlist:
Tomorrow is a Latter Day – Book of Mormon
Legally Blonde Remix – Legally Blonde
So Much Better – Legally Blonde
Watcha Got? – Zanna Don’t
Now or Never – High School Musical 3
Walk Through the Fire – Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Once More with Feeling)
King of Pride Rock/Circle of Life – Lion King
Suspend My Disbelief/I Had a Life – Ghost
What you Want – Legally Blonde
The Stampede – Lion King
You Can’t Stop the Beat – Hairspray
Rewrite This Story – SMASH
We Built This City/ We’re Not Going to Take it – Rock of Ages
Gay Gay Gay Gay Gay …
This week I boldly went where I assume so many movie reviewers have gone before me by seeing Star Trek: (dun dun) into darkness. Our quirky band of merry space explorers have found themselves once again in trouble when Khan, a rogue agent declares war on Star Fleet. The admiral orders The Enterprise to venture to the Klingon planet of Kronos to track Khan down. However something is amiss as the Starship enterprise begins to realize everything is not as it seems.
Star Trek ignites the screen with jam-packed action sequences, hilarious Spockisms, and dramatically vague speeches from a slue of villains. Benedict Cumberbatch is quite possibly the greatest villain … EVER; I could listen to his deep pounding voice all day as he recounts the many ways he would destroy me and the entirety of mankind. Zachary Quinto once again excels as our Spock. However, I felt there was a bit of magic, present in the first film, that was now absent in this film. Also, as much as i appreciated the clever callbacks to Star Trek past, I think i would have appreciated a departure into some unknown terrain and had a new villain; a new threat for the franchise. I give Star Trek 4 Xs out of 5; a truly brilliant and phenominal sequel to the successful first film.
For an audio version of the review, click below:
This week I saw the film adaptation of presumably one of the best novels ever written, The Great Gatsby. For those of you who have been living under a rock and have not found a spare afternoon to pour through the 150-page novel, here is a brief synopsis. Nick Carraway, the narrator of our tale, moves to New York City in 1922 to chase the American Dream. Amidst the soaring skyscrapers, loose morals, and bootlegger booze, Carraway meets the mysteriously elusive Jay Gatsby; a man of means known for throwing extravagant and lavish parties. As Carraway learns more and more about the Great Mr. Gatsby, the more he becomes disillusioned by the superficiality of the lifestyles of the rich and famous, recognizing the walls we put up and the masks we wear in order to sail through this world.
Baz Luhrman, as one would assume, delivers another cinematically stunning production ripe with brilliant aesthetics, scenic backdrops, and vibrancy that hums throughout the entire film. In fact, I very much felt like I was watching Moulin Rouge on crack complete with singing prostitutes, elaborately choreographed dance sequences, and a torrid love affair that naturally ends in woe and despair. The soundtrack, comprised of remixed Jay-Z songs, adds a modern flair to this classic novel. However, at the end of the day, I feel that is all that audiences got; a visual orgasm of ecstasy that is little more than a high-end music video. Once you strip away the dazzling effects and stunning, visuals audiences are left with a rather bland and frankly outdated story. I didn’t feel any grand connection to the rather flat characters and thought to myself “wonderful another cautionary tale of the shallowness of fame, popularity, and wealth”. I was bored as I found myself, once again, watching a two and a half hour film where two extremely attractive and affluent men fight for the affection of a stuck-up – and quite frankly selfish – woman. I give The Great Gatsby 2 and a half Xs out of 5; is beautiful cinematography worth $13 and 2 and a half hours of your life, I’m afraid only you can decide that.
Listen to an audio version of the review below: