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Breaking even

13 Aug
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“Breaking Bad” is back and it fills us, the faithful “baddies,” with exuberant joy. The wait was way too long, especially considering it was cut off mid-season. Sadly, it also means the show will be over soon. However, it`s pleasant to think it`s going to end while still in its top form, rather than keep getting extended until it grows so tiring and boring that you would hardly be tempted to watch the finale – as was the case for me with “House MD.
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And yet, as we all rush to our screens to get the latest delivery from Walter White, one can`t help wondering, why all this love, this popularity, this cult status? Of course it is a good story to begin with, it is well scripted and well-acted, but then many shows are, without producing the same effect. In fact I remember a number of people saying they dropped the show after a number of episodes as it was “too slow.” And yes, it was slow to start and it`s not always fast paced even now. Moreover, it had no famous actors in it and the main star was neither young nor attractive (the show made him into an icon he is now). In essence “Breaking Bad” is a story of one man – one man with no great designs and big ambitions, at least not at first. Just a man, who finds himself in a situation and deals with it the only way he can. And the first thing he learns is that to survive he can`t be a “good man.” Being good is not the winning combination – at least not in the real world we live in today.
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Surely I wouldn’t be the first one (more like the thousandth one) to say this but the truly epic TV heroes of today are not the “good people.” Walter White, Tony Soprano, Dexter Morgan and even Dr House and Don Draper are not good people. At least not in the sense that society sees it. Not in the sense that the system insists “good people” should be. But we love them and follow them because nowadays a lot of us understand that playing by the rules is not necessarily the right thing. Playing by the rules doesn`t even mean you won`t get in trouble – because trouble may come from the most unexpected places. We are a generation of non-believers, because there are less and less things everyday to lay our faith in. Governments spying on us, banks and taxmen stealing from us and all kinds of other greater powers playing us for fools day after day.
That is why the new superheroes are the common people who go against the flow, following their individuals needs and dreams. System doesn`t work for them, so they f**ck with it. They tell you that if the shit gets tough, you have to grow a pair and deal with it, because if you don`t deal with the problem, it will deal with you. So, all we can do is make the best with what we have and who we are, and that`s exactly what Walter White, the great anti-hero of our time, has been doing all this time. And if we put aside the whole drug and crime part, we know that in essence, he got it right.

Strange attractions of “Hemlock Grove”

24 Jul

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I`m a sucker for a good TV drama – I enjoy comedies too, especially British, but an engaging, thrilling drama is something I need to have in my life. Once I`m done with one (or at least done till next season), I look for another. One of my more significant discoveries of late was “House of Cards” from Netflix – it was quite a delight, even though I agree that it did have its weaker moments and Spacey`s young reporter/lover was damn annoying (more a whore than a reporter), yet Spacey himself was still pure awesome. Since its first release was such a pleasant surprise, I couldn’t wait to check out Netflix`s next baby – “Hemlock Grove.”

Before I got to see it, however, reviews were pouring in, suggesting it`s much closer to the “True Blood” (which I did enjoy for a few seasons, until the writing turned total garbage) and “Twilight” territory than mature thrillers like “House of Cards.” And indeed it was.

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There sure was a twilighty feel to it – two young guys, one suggested to be werewolf, another – subtly hinted on to suffer from some form of vampirism, caught up in a freindship/love triangle with a girl – an angelic looking blonde, pregnant with a mysterious baby. Sounds like a classic recipe for a modern young adult fiction, doesn`t it? And speaking of “True Blood” the vampiric blond guy in “Hemlock Grove” is played by Bill Skarsgard – brother of Alexander Skarsgard a.k.a. True Blood`s most charismatic vampire, Eric Northman. Seems like to make a successful a successful supernatural show, you need at least one  Skarsgard – and they`ve got one here.

Overall, “Hemlock Grove” has many weak points.  First of all it`s strangely unbalanced, constantly swaying between a pretty good mysterious drama and a teenage horror flick. The blonde girl (Penelope Mitchell) is way too sweet and doesn’t do much proper acting apart from looking and talking real sexy. The transformation scene from a human into a wolf is truly revolting; the “good” doctor Godfrey (Dougray Scott) is too much of a weak loser; and for the most part the show runs quite slow, interrupted here and there by a sudden, totally unexpected bloodbath scenes.

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And yet, despite all the obvious cliches, and partly poor writing, “Hemlock Grove” is strangely alluring. Perhaps it has to do with Roman Godfrey (the aforementioned Bill Skarsgard), whose character`s vampiric nature is not truly revealed until later and who feels hardcore and intense despite the model good looks. Perhaps it`s his mom, the Queen Bitch Olivia (Famke Janssen), with her unrelenting arrogance, apparently inhuman strength and impeccably white outfits, that appear to emphasize her blood lust. Perhaps its her mysterious daughter – a deformed Frankenstein monster-like creature with a heart of gold or a a mad doctor, growing something unspeakable in his laboratory. In fact, it`s possible that I especially enjoy the show for not giving away answers too soon – things are revealed suddenly, yet the build up to it is gradual – while some turns are predictable, others remain to be seen.

One thing is clear – I will stay tuned for season number 2, and pray that it won`t be hit by shitty writing curse as much as “True Blood was.”

And one more thing I love about it is the soundtrack. A really good song playing as the episode ends and credits start rolling somehow makes up for all the shortcomings and leaves you wanting more.

5 foolproof ways to annoy people on Facebook

1 May

You know how people sometimes complain about getting too much spam on facebook or make fun of what you post? Ignore and remind them it’s your RIGHT to post whatever you wish on your PUBLIC page and express yourself in ways you’d be shy about in real life! Facebook is THE place to vent your secret second persona if you have one, teach and inspire others, convert them to your faith and well, annoy others if needed. In case you forgotten how to do it, here’s five foolproof tips:

1) MORE DRAMA!

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Your facebook friends don’t get enough melodrama, sentimentality and sadness in their daily lives – you must help them! Quote favorite songs and poems, and write your own stuff – right there, on your wall. And don’t worry, it doesn’t have to rhyme. Don’t know how to get started? Just describe what you see – raindrops falling behind the window and how sad it makes you feel, and how love is pain and whatever else comes into your mind. Don’t listen to those who would tell you it all belongs in your personal diary or shrink’s office at the very least – facebook is your shoulder to cry on, your friend, your shrink and, most importantly your audience – the only one that would never turn you down.

2) INSPIRE!

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– Keep posting inspirational posters – you know, these pictures with quotes or messages against a dreamy background, like a photo of a sunset or a cloudy blue sky or Buddhist monk. Make sure the quotes are as cliche as possible, saying stuff like: “Believe in Yourself” or “Don’t Give Up Your Dreams” or any other statements which sound totally obvious to anyone over the age of 20. What if one of your friends did miss this precious piece of wisdom – even if 200 other friends have posted it before you. Keep inspiring – who knows, it might change someone’s life!

3) PANDAS

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The more the better! Internet is full of ridiculously adorable panda pictures, collages and videos. Make sure your facebook friends see a panda every time they look at the Wall. And if you run out of pandas – new puppies and kittens keep flooding the internet nonstop. Best of all – pick the ones with captions, such as “What’s up?,” “Hate Mondays” and “Yey, it’s Friday!” – ’cause you can never have too many of those. And  if you happen to own a pet, keep taking pictures of it and posting them online whenever you get a chance. Don’t you know your friends love being updated about your pet’s daily activities and go “Awww” every time they see a new expression on its furry face, same as you do!

4) KEEP IT CRYPTIC

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Write statuses in short, cryptic messages to baffle, disturb and even scare your friends and keep them wondering what the hell it was supposed to mean. Something like: “It’s all over” or “Never again!” Well, you know how it goes! People will wonder and scratch their heads, thinking what you’re up to and what kind of incredible kicks you’re having or tragedies you’re going through. And the simpler-minded friends will surely stop to ask: “What happened?,” and then you may as well tell them or keep on playing your little game. In either case – you’ll draw attention to yourself, even if you have nothing to say, so mission accomplished!

5) INVITE, ADD AND SUGGEST!

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Who says that the time when people pissed their pants at the sight of an invite to some new app, game or group is well over? Who says most of us have already played the dumb games and filled facebook with too much garbage and cleaned it out and don’t want to go through that again? Don’t believe this nonsense! Keep inviting friends to play Farmville and Mafia Wars, join Your Calendar and add them to as many groups as you can find – regardless of their interests and without bothering to ask them. If people fail to respond to invitations – keep at it! And if a friend deletes and blocks you as a result – don’t worry, you probably have another 300 to do it to.

Going for broke

28 Apr

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My most recent discovery from the world of sitcoms, 2 Broke Girls is not exactly exactly a comedy masterpiece. Lots of jokes fall flat, some of them are also quite repetitive and the plot barely hangs together. Think of it: a rich girl (Caroline, played by Beth Behrs) goes broke after her banker dad loses all their money and goes to jail. Instead of going to stay with her relatives (obviously not all of them are incarcerated) and getting some fancy job which wouldn’t be a problem with her connections and social standing, she goes waitressing while sleeping on the subway (wait, what?).

The other of the two broke girls, Max (Kat Dennings), is a more realistic character, yet with her wit and baking talent and the fact that she has been clearly working since she was 15 and living in New York, it’s astonishing she hasn’t advanced anywhere past a basic waitress at a diner by her mid-twenties. Though, seeing how she insults customers at the slightest provocation, it’s amazing how she could hold on to any job that requires people skills.

But well, it’s not that bad really. The show is amusing and cute and, sometimes even outright hilarious. Kat Denning’s Max, clearly the leader of the waitress duo, delivers a combination of cynicism and hotness that is more often found in male TV characters. She’s sassy, smart, cool and just so luscious. Also, the cashier, Earl – is quite the legendary character. A sort of TV’s Sam Jackson or Morgan Freeman.

So yeah, despite the imperfections, 2 Broke Girls is definitely worth a watch on weekend nights – when you feel like being entertained, without needing to focus too much. Though I would still insist that the part about the horse is way out of line. Don’t even get me started on that horse

And so it begins

27 Mar

I’ve done it already twice – write the welcome note on my new blog, I mean. My first was a movie blog, my second – a fashion/lifestyle journal. Yet both haven’t received much attention from me lately. I simply realized there are plenty of movie websites and blogs already, and writing yet another review of a popular movie to have it read by a few friends is a rather thankless job. As for fashion, while it was easy to get readers with this one (less writing/reading involved too), I’ve soon grown tired of trying to immerse myself in the world of fashion on a daily basis, as it matters much less to me than to real pro fashion bloggers.

So after much consideration, I decided to give blogging another go, and this time dedicate my blog to what I do best – criticizing. After all I’ve written my share of critical newspaper columns (and rather successful ones at that), and I seem to always have much more to say about the things that annoy or even infuriate me than the things I enjoy and admire.

The subjects of my rants will mostly be limited to pop culture and lifestyle – which is what I know best. But they might as well crossover into politics and international affairs – after all, everything is so interconnected now. One last remark: when I say “criticize” I don’t mean that my every piece will be aimed at trashing something or other – at times it would be just some ironic commentary with due respect to the subject (if it happens to deserve it).