Archive for the ‘Columns’ Category

Yep, this is just another of my regular, like-clockwork posts, those things I do all the time here at my blog.
August 17, 2011

Adam Penenberg seems like a perfectly nice guy, and we had a good discussion several months ago when the Fast Company contributor agreed to do a “crowdsourced” column about Servio, a crowdsourcing company I do some work for. I ended up doing some editing on the column and a few interviews. I don’t know that the Servio honchos will be doing backflips over the end result, which finally published today, but you know what they say about any news being good news. I mean, if they still say that. Whoever they are. But I digress.

Carmelo Anthony with a Panda on His Lap

LeBron James since has followed suit with his own panda-lap pic, but it just doesn't have the same effect. I mean, look at the face Melo is giving us here, then look at the panda. It's brilliant. Too little, too late, LeBron.

Regardless, the one thing I’ll take Adam to task for is not telling me my name in the online version of his column would be linked to this blog, though I guess that makes more sense than this, or this, or Carmelo Anthony with a panda on his lap. I mean, I wake up at the crack of 10:34 and realize, hell, that Fast Company piece finally ran, there’s a link to the blog, and I’d damn well better get a new post up.

The least Adam could have done was give me a heads-up, seeing as I haven’t updated this blog since something like 1978. Hey, I’ve been busy. I’ve been editing a book. I’ve been ghostwriting a novel. I’ve been working on my own novel. And I’ve had to assist a highly dangerous avian force in a rescue mission to retrieve their progeny from a group of swine—with no more than a slingshot at my disposal. It’s been a jam-packed year.

So if you happened to get here from the Fast Company column, yeah, this post appears because I thought it would be good to get something up. And I suppose I actually should thank Adam for prompting me to do so. Now, considering the unexpected effort I’ve had to put forth before noon, I’m going back to bed.

Red Riding Hood, freedom of speech, and curious interpretations thereof
March 20, 2011

I have way too much work right now for an efficient, productive person, much less the lazy, unfocused bastard I am. Given that I’m juggling three different deadlines right now — and yes, “juggling” is my term for “being two weeks behind on” — I actually was fairly proud of the three uninterrupted hours of editing work I put in tonight. On a weekend, no less. While recovering from the flu.

(Yes, I deserve the Purple Heart. Or whatever equates to the Purple Heart for someone whose closest brush with the military was an questionable fraternization matter in the back of an Old Navy.)

That all went to hell about an hour ago. I got two private messages from IMDB users, which would be the first two I’ve received since somewhere in the general vicinity of ever.

Life in Hell cartoon about film critics

I was stuck for an image, and this is cute. You can click it to make it bigger. But you knew that, right?

I kinda figured what prompted these messages even before I read them. A couple of weeks ago my film critic buddy Christian Toto invited me along to a screening of Red Riding Hood. I miss the days of free screenings and getting paid for film reviews from my days at the St. Petersburg Times newspaper, so I tag along when I can.

You can see my review of Hood in the previous post on this site (or, if you’re as lazy as I am, just click here). I also posted it under the User Reviews on IMDB. Thanks largely to Christian giving me a jump start on the other reviewers, plus a pretty good “people found [this] review useful” ratio (88 of 114 at present), my writeup is the first one you see for the film.

The first message I received was flattering. It was from the owner of a Blu-Ray review site who checked out some of my work and asked me to contribute. Sure, why not!

(If you’re thinking “Why not? Because you’re already behind on three deadlines, dumbass,” then I have one thing to say to you: Um, shut up.)

The other message was slightly less cordial. It’s probably more fun if I don’t preface it further. Just read and enjoy:

(more…)

M*O*S*H 
December 22, 2010

Mosh pitST. PETERSBURG – We shared moments over the past two minutes as intimate as lovers. And Alex and I were just now exchanging names.

Well, barely. Talking was harder than breathing. And breathing was impossible.

We hunched over, heads bowed, reduced to violent, concussive coughs, trying yet failing to mine some refreshment from this steaming soup. One hundred yards from Tampa Bay and I’m somehow drowning on dry land.

Summertime Florida’s daily visitor was nothing but a frustrating tease, a sick joke. It threatened an appearance, a hope-inspiring glimpse of its slip, so we coveted the darkening clouds, the heat index ramping to three digits.

But no shower today, not a chance, not for us. The cloud cover barely softened the debilitating heat. We knew the truth: We had bowed down to false gods who blared punk rock, and this was our penance. Painful enough in the afternoon, it now was early evening, and the Vinoy Park heat had conquered me.

I spat again.

The hulking Alex Nodderal, at 6 feet 2 a brick wall, got his voice back first – one benefit of being 22 years old. He pulled his West Coast Choppers T-shirt away from his thick chest, analyzed it and, smiling at me, said:

“That blood can’t all be mine.” (more…)

Rick is rejected by eHarmony — TWICE.
December 1, 2010

You may have seen the commercial: Smiling guy looks through a magazine that resembles Playboy. Closes it, shrugs, and says, “Nope. Still gay.”

Rick with a prohibited symbol over his faceA red “brand” slams down:

REJECTED BY eHarmony.

Then, a voiceover:

“Who knows why eHarmony has rejected over a million people looking for love? But at Chemistry.com, you can come as you are . . .”

So goes the assault on eHarmony.com, a popular online “matching” site, by its newest competitor.

The ad shades the truth a hair: If you’re gay or lesbian, eHarmony won’t consider you long enough to reject you; the site doesn’t do same-sex matching. Chemistry.com does.

If you’re straight – which you must specify upfront – eHarmony then allows you to answer more than 250 questions about yourself.

But not everyone who completes eHarmony’s questionnaire gets to use its services.

* * *

A few months ago, after friends related their experiences with dates set up through eHarmony, I decided to give it a try.

After an hour of rating myself on hundreds of criteria, I was dying for the ordeal to end. Still, I carefully considered the questions and statements, answering them honestly.

Finally, I reached the penultimate page and hit “save and continue.” Bring on the ladies.

The next page read:

Unable to Match You at This Time

(more…)

A few not-so-brief thoughts on Inception (SPOILERS)
August 9, 2010

Inception Teaser Poster

Leo must have REALLY had to go.

Yes, I finally got around to seeing Inception last night. I dug deep and spent the full $17 for the IMAX version. It’s a little late in the game to do a full review, so I’ll just hit some quick (well, relatively quick ) thoughts. And if by chance you haven’t seen the film, rest assured that

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS

…follow. So don’t say you weren’t warned.

(Actually, go ahead and say it. But no one will believe you, John Edwards/Jeremy London/Wall-E.)

(Yeah, that’s right, Wall-E. You know what I’m talking about, you little can-opener bastard. But we can hash that out later.)

Thank God someone still makes movies like this

This is an action-packed, effects-filled (but not effects-driven) summer movie that thinks it’s still cool to challenge viewers, to have well-rounded characters and complicated twists and best of all, a perfectly ambiguous was-it-all-a-dream ending. (Yeah, it has flaws too, but we’ll get to that.) Much like Christopher Nolan’s previous film, The Dark Knight, it’s both a summer movie and a “film.” These things do not have to be mutually exclusive, Hollywood. How much more proof do you need?

Inception still is a far cry from perfect

(Told ya.) As much as I enjoyed it–a point that I’ll get to further in a moment–it has issues. Nolan doesn’t do that great a job of conveying all the rules of the dream universe in a very organic fashion (next time shell out a little dough and let J.J. Abrams or Joss Whedon do a polish on the script), and ramping up the Hans Zimmer score over every scene of pretty people talking about what you can do and can’t do inside a dream-within-a-dream-within-a-dream-within-a-pastry doesn’t always make it interesting.

Also, for a film so determined to explain every single dream world rule to death, isn’t it odd that the actual technology involved gets no explanation whatsoever? How is Ellen Page (that’s right, I’m too lazy to look up the characters’ names right now) able to “create” these worlds? I get the idea that it doesn’t matter if it’s all dream, but if it’s all a dream, would we get endless explanations about all the other stuff? Finally, why do you cast Michael Caine for all of two tiny scenes?

(more…)

Knight and Day Film Review
June 23, 2010

Knight and Day Poster

Knight and Day (2010) film review

Rick’s grade: 4 out of 10

By RICK GERSHMAN

Bear with me for a minute while I talk about dinner. Trust me, it’s relevant.

Tuesday was a busy day. I was racing around to get everything done before meeting up with my buddy Christian Toto for the Knight and Day screening in downtown Denver. (You can find Christian’s review here.)

The YMCA where I exercise is just a few blocks from the theater. I got my workout in, but I only had a few minutes to eat before the movie. So I popped into the Taco Bell down the street, got two Beefy 5-layer burritos and ate them as I  walked to the theater.

Now, Taco Bell’s Beefy 5-layer burrito is a glorious thing. It’s 89 cents, which is awesome. It’s incredibly filling, which is awesome. And here’s the thing: It actually tastes pretty damn good. So even though I figured they’d be rotting in my colon until the day I die, at the time I was pretty damn happy with those two 5-layer burritos.

A few hours later, however, I was regretting those burritos. Yummy as they were at the time, they left me feeling rather sick and bloated. My cholesterol probably hiked up about 50 points, matched only by my blood pressure. All of the good work I did at the Y, destroyed in one beefy, cheesy swoop.

Which brings us to Knight and Day, the Taco Bell 5-layer burrito of the 2010 summer movie season.

Actually, the metaphor doesn’t quite hold true — the 5-layer burrito is less than a buck, whereas you’ll be paying around 10 bucks for this action comedy starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz. It would be a lot more palatable at 98 cents.

(more…)

Rick’s first yoga class: A cautionary tale
June 6, 2010

Writers never sit in the front row.

Yogi Bear

Okay, so perhaps I misspelled something in my Google Images search.

Not at meetings, classes, groundbreakings, sporting events or anything else requiring, well, rows. That’s because it’s hard to report fully on an event when much of it is behind you.

And we’re still wary of having our backs exposed after being tagged with all those “Kick Me” signs back in school.

Business majors can be so cruel.

If I had my druthers – and if I actually knew what “druthers” were – I would have avoided the front row when I attended my first yoga class.

But the Yoga Room”s rules dictated that all newbies be at the front of the class. This made me feel all the more conspicuous when I later attempted the downward dog pose, my ass raised to the heavens and my head headed toward hell . . . .

But more on that later.

(more…)

Brief thoughts on Lost series finale: Because someone had to do it
May 24, 2010

I know what you’re thinking, and it’s this: “No one else has any opinion on the final episode of Lost, so I sure hope Rick Gershman can help me out with that.”

Happy to help.

It was an interesting experience, because I watched the show with my buddy Chase Squires, formerly the television critic for one of the nation’s top newspapers. (Ask your grandparents about newspapers – they might remember them from when they were little.)

Chase has followed Lost religiously since its premiere. He’s written about it extensively. He’s visited the sets in Hawaii. He even created a popular run of stick-figure recaps for the aforementioned newspaper. (It was like news, but it was written on paper. And you paid real money for it. Yeah, it makes no sense to me either.)

Suffice it to say, Chase knows Lost inside and out. And when tonight’s finale ended, this was his general take:

“That sucked! We didn’t get any answers! Are you kidding? Gershman, get out of my home!”

(That’s damn near verbatim, mind you. I would have been upset, but I live next door, so I stormed off on my 15-second walk home and wrote this up for you.)

Anyway, my take is this: I understand completely where Chase is coming from. And I’m sure many hardcore Losties feel the same.

Regardless, I disagree completely.

I loved it.

I thought it was one of the most kickass, most satisfying, most courageous series finales ever.

I’m not going to waste your precious time going into too many details, but I owe you an explanation for my defense of what Lost masterminds Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse came up with, so here are the highlights:

  1. I don’t need everything explained to me. I just don’t. If I’m watching a mystery or a police procedural, sure, break it all down. That’s required. But the brilliance of Lost always has been about reading between the lines and adding your own interpretations to the mix. Why should the finale be any different? If the writers handed us everything on a silver platter, wouldn’t that be the cop-out?
  2. It hit us where it counts. When you invest six years into these characters, you expect some emotional payoffs, and tonight’s show paid that off and then some. The fact that many of the characters had died in what we can likely consider the true “reality” made those moments all the more fulfilling. I’m not the type to get choked up, but I did several times tonight. It was unabashedly romantic, and unbelievably touching. (more…)

Note to (currently-but-not-infinitely-nonexistent) Readers
May 5, 2010

Okay, there aren’t any readers yet. I realize this. However, there will be. (I remain optimistic. Don’t crush the light in my soul. That’s what family is for.)

So when readers finally get around to reading this, it is to explain that the posts that follow will include more than a little “repurposed” content. However, it is all content that I originally wrote with my original widdle hands.

So bear with me. We’re going to get some content cranked up, weaving in some original stuff here and there, and eventually we’ll be 100 percent original.

(Well, maybe not 100 percent. But it’s good stuff. Please don’t crush the light in my soul. That’s what girlfriends are for.)