Monday, October 31, 2011

Couch Potato Loses Remote, Still Ignores Hot Wife

From the Onion Newbs Network


Jeremy Holden, 42, of Massapequa NY, was relaxing at home watching “The Simpsons” this Sunday when he discovered his remote control was missing. At the end of the first segment he reached for his remote, hoping to mute the commercials, only to find it was gone. “I dunno what happened to it,” said Jeremy. “I could swear I’d left it on the arm of my chair, but when I went to look for it, Bam! no remote! It really sucked. I mean, ‘The Simpsons’ has godawful ads.”

His wife Tranh, 23, a mail-order Vietnamese bride, seemed to think it was good that her couch-potato husband might have to sweat for a few days. “Him always watching TV and not spending time with me. Him lose remote, good riddance. Want more playtime. You want playtime with me?” she asked, holding a chess board. When asked if her husband was paying more attention to her, she shook her head. “No, him complain him have to get up to change channel. Not even notice when I give lap dance.”

Neighbors Walter and Selma Burren, 54 and 56, had hopes that losing the remote would be good for Jeremy’s marriage to his extremely attractive wife. “I mean, he’s spending his time watching Monday Night Football and doesn’t even seem to notice when those ripped Marines come to the house,” said Selma.

Walter agreed. “Yeah, she welcomes them inside wearing a negligee, a Scrabble board and a smile, and he just watches tee-vee, scratches his crotch and drinks crummy beer. You’d think he’d want to get freaky with her more than once a month, but no-o-o! I think he has a hard-on for jocks instead. He once told me he used to play Dungeons and Dragons, you know? Doesn’t he still have some gamer mojo?” He paused to yell across the street, “Hey, Tranh, are we still on for our Monopoly marathon threesome this Thursday?”

However, neighborhood speculation of renewed marital harmony in the Holden household were dashed when Jeremy publicly announced on Tuesday that he’d ordered a new remote control from Amazon. “Yeah, this one has a homing beacon, so I’ll never lose my remote again!” Dozens of neighbors went to console Tranh for her loss and set up playdates, while shares of game company Milton Bradley rose 3% on the news.

Out and About: The Big Broadcast of 1954

“I guess this is one of those weeks where you don’t get the upper hand!” -- ingenue Jenny Brennan to proto-paparazzi Leda Leaper, “The Frank Cyrano Byfar Hour.”

As I looked out over the small audience watching us in the theater on October 21, 2011, I smiled. I admit I would have liked more people in the theater, but that didn’t matter all that much. Our audience was receptive, and it was our biggest one to date for this year’s show. They laughed at our jokes, giggled at our antics on-stage, and held their collective breath during the second half of the show at all the right spots. This crowd enjoyed our show, and such enjoyment is meat and drink for an actor’s spirit.


Frank Cyrano (left) and the Chowderhouse Gang: Mayor Fitzcurley (center left), West End Wendy (center right) and Wordsworth Willy (right)
In August of 2009, the Post Meridian Radio Players put out a call for actors and actresses to audition for their biggest show ever, “The Big Broadcast of 1938.” The first part of the show, “The Frank Cyrano Byfar Hour,” had all of eight speaking parts for a full hour show, and I wanted to be in it. After using my best old-style radio pitchman voice, I landed the role of Charlie Kendall, the spokesman for the show’s one and only sponsor, the fictitious Beverly Beverage Company of Beverly, Mass. My role on-stage is to sell a fictional product that’s become real by audience demand -- we now sell bottles of rich, delicious Byfar Coffee Syrup at every show -- and making the audience laugh while I do it. It’s an excellent role, and I love coming back to it annually.

The stately and ancient butler Chelmsford (left) and Charlie Kendall (right)


“Yes, if we were to re-write the dictionary, we’d put Byfar at the top!” -- Charlie Kendall pitching Byfar Coffee Syrup, “The Frank Cyrano Byfar Hour.”

Each year the show has jumped 8 years into the future, specifically so the show will take place near or on Hallowe’en of that year. This year is no exception, with “The Big Broadcast of 1954.” Everybody able to come back who was a cast member in a previous Byfar Hour has returned. All of us want to wow the audience, regardless of how many people show up -- though, like me, we all would like larger audiences. The only people who didn’t come back this year were Michael, who moved to DC, and James, who has been redeployed. We all hope he comes back safely. 

We’re performing at a different venue this year, the Regent Theater in Arlington. Our previous venue, the Somerville Theatre in Davis Square, Somerville, wanted to handle Hallowe’en differently this year, with multiple shows coming in for one night only. Like main stage of the Somerville, the Regent Theatre is a classic theater that’s been restored -- with comfortable seats -- to look like a theater space from the 1930s, complete with a functional balcony. Admittedly the floor of the balcony is concrete instead of wood, but that’s a small price to pay for being up in the front row of a balcony. It’s a smaller space, but this has actually been an advantage. Our audiences have pulled together more. This means better group energy from them, which in turns means better performances from us.

“Ichabod was the darling of the Dutch wives and mothers. Flowers and honey dripped from his lips, falling on their ears like gentle kisses. But there were those who knew him for what he was. And what he wanted.” -- Ernst Kreitzer, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”

There’s a pattern to our live shows with multiple playlets. The first act is a comedy, while later acts explore science fiction and horror. PMRP does not put on the goriest pieces of horror. There are no dramatic choreographed fights, no sudden gouts of blood gushing from dying characters that splatter the audience with fake gore. The stage consists of actors reading from scripts, Foley performers making live sound effects, and whatever band we can convince to play with us. Some audio effects are pre-recorded, but we use as many live effects as we can manage. The important part is, it works. The crew members dressed up in period garb, the cigarette girls selling candy in the aisles, the soundscape, the live actors, the anticipation -- all of these components blend to take the audience away from the theater and into the story woven before their eyes.  The only blood we have is make-up, and not drippy.

The Formerly Headless Horseman revealed, Ernst Kreitzer

“Why, because it is in the dark that HE roams... the Headless Horseman.” -- Brom Bones to Ichabod Crane, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”

People clapped for Wordsworth Willie hitting a high note normally only heard from sopranos and countertenors. They laughed at most everything the ancient and half-deaf butler Chelmsford said. They gasped in fear at the ride of the Headless Horseman. I felt I was having a rough night that night during the first few minutes of the show, but most of it wasn’t noticeable to the audience. Despite having under five hours of sleep a night for three days in a row, despite wearing a suit and tie, even despite feeling initially off my game, I was psyched to be there. Most importantly, the audience loved the show. This year is done, but hopefully we'll come back in 2012 with The Big Broadcast of 1962.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

An Unearthly Palette: The Museum of Bad Art


Most art museums you encounter exhibit excellent art. Commonly, these museums lovingly display their treasures in airy, humidity-controlled, carefully-lit rooms, designed to maximize the pleasure and understanding of the viewer. They aim to show you the best.

None of this applies to the Museum of Bad Art. Cheerfully located in two movie theater basements -- Dedham Community Theatre and the Somerville Theatre -- as well as its newest outlet in the offices of Brookline Access Television, each location aims to show visiting patrons some particularly egregious creations that most of the world would prefer to forget. The placard on the wall in the Somerville Theatre location professes the provenance of this putatively priceless collection:

“The majority of the art in the collection has been purchased at yard sales, second-hand stores, and thrift shops. Some pieces were donated by the artists, and others were rescued from inevitable destruction after being entered as detritus into a solid-waste disposal system.”

"Chiquita" doesn't seem to mind the desert -- or the active volcano.


Many of the pieces had no known titles when they were first acquired by MoBA, so the staff either made them up on the spot or put the pieces up and asked patrons to come up with names and artistic descriptions of each piece. One such piece currently resides at the Somerville location, with a final submission date of March 2010. As it remains untitled, MoBA may still entertain submissions. (This author may enter one soon)


You, too, could caption this picture for MoBA!
The first piece that greets patrons at the Somerville location is titled, “Loneliness in a Blue Lagoon,” by Amal Haidan. The smiling nude blonde lady, kneeling on the beach while facing the viewer, would perhaps be less bad if she weren’t sporting one of the worst documented cases of sunburn ever painted. 

Every piece lacks something of vital importance, such as assorted body parts, shadows, comprehensibility, or taste. For example, “Chiquita” shows a topless lady carrying fruit on her head while winking at the viewer, seems inordinately happy for a woman who has an active volcano erupting right behind her. By contrast, “Mama and Babe” depicts a classic pose of a mother with her child in her lap; but both have faces that look like ugly versions of Edgar Bergen’s Charlie McCarthy doll. The mother’s face is colored aqua, while her daughter’s otherwise-normal hair is a shade of green normally only found on pine-trees and in Japanese anime.
"Mama and Babe"
Don't hate them because they're beautiful.  Run away from them because they're creepy.

Some pieces actually look fairly pretty, such as “March Madness,” but up close... well, it is to laugh.

Words alone cannot properly convey the power - and the gory - of MoBA’s collection. Each MoBA museum is free to enter, but the ones in theaters require that you purchase admission to the theater before entering. Still, if you have nothing better to do before catching your first-run movie in Davis Square, you should investigate the collection. You’ll never get those fifteen minutes of your life back, but you weren’t using them productively anyways.

For more information, and to see some pieces, please visit http://museumofbadart.org/


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Hasty Halloween Shopping & Last-Minute Costumes

When you were a kid, you had your Halloween costume picked out in July. Now that your life is taken over by work or school or both, you’re lucky if you even plan as far ahead as October 30th. Fortunately, there is a wide selection of costume shops, second-hand stores, and Halloween supplies in Boston to fulfill any last-minute shopper’s costume dreams. Whether you’re putting together a last-minute look, throwing a theme party, or searching for vintage fashion year round, these top picks will have everything you’re looking for:

1. The Garment District (& Boston Costume) – Though they stock plenty of vintage looks and fashionable used clothing for a colorful, year-round wardrobe, Halloween is truly a time to shine for The Garment District. Located on Broadway in Kendall Square, this large, self-proclaimed department store is home to over 40,000 different and unique pieces of clothing. 


During the month of October, The Garment District transforms from an alternative department store to an over-the-top costume shop with shelves bursting with wigs, fake mustaches, vampire fangs, and rows upon rows of the best ready-made costumes. If you’re looking for scrap fabric to construct your own costume (perhaps for a scarecrow or hobo look), make sure to take advantage of the “clothes-by-the-pound” section where you can wade through a mountain of clothing and pay for your perfectly selected material by the pound.

Also at this location is Boston Costume where you can buy or rent one of the many fully decorated costumes available. With two great costume suppliers sharing one roof, your chances of finding the best Halloween costume at the last possible moment are greatly improved. Though their hours of operation are extended to midnight during the Halloween season, be prepared to wait in line with hundreds of other last-minute shoppers. For more information about The Garment District and Boston Costume visit http://www.garmentdistrict.com/ or stop in at 200 Broadway in Kendall Square.

2. Dorothy’s Boutique – If your desired costume requires a voluptuous wig, platform heels with poker chips inside them, or hot pink fishnet stockings, Dorothy’s Boutique on Mass Ave in Back Bay is where you need to be. This costume shop has been praised for its eclectic selection of platform heels and drag-queen-approved apparel. 


Dorothy’s also has a large selection of stage-worthy theatrical makeup including hair dye, lipstick, glitter, modeling putty for that perfect, over-sized witch nose, white face paint for a clown or ghost look, and even black-light hair spray. For those of you looking for something a little less sexy, Dorothy’s also carries full size penguin, Gumby and Pokey, and Santa Claus costumes. 

As the 31st creeps nearer and nearer, the line at Dorothy’s gets longer and longer, so be sure to plan ahead or be ready to wait in line. Find Dorothy’s Boutique at 190 Mass Ave in Boston.

3. Goodwill – If your Halloween costume requires less wig and makeup action and more era appropriate clothing, seek out a Goodwill store near you. For anything from 60’s hippie to 80’s secretary to 90’s grunge rocker, the many color-coded racks will provide you with plenty of material and inspiration. Though you may have to do a little more searching, your costume will glow with resourcefulness and authenticity. For best searching results, look through every section and don’t be afraid to recruit friends to help. Many of the most unique pieces get moved around and the best costume accessories are never where you expect them to be. Top rated Goodwill store locations include Roxbury, Davis Square, and Central Square. To find a Goodwill store in your area use the Goodwill locator: http://locator.goodwill.org/

4. Buffalo Exchange – This second-hand store specializes in bringing together designer looks and used fashion at a reasonable price. They buy and sell only the most popular brands and trends so that you don’t have to go searching and searching through piles of boring, faded clothing. Buffalo Exchange has a surprisingly large selection of men’s clothing, a vast collection of shoes, and a variety of dresses. If you’re taking a more modern approach to your costume this year, say with a celebrity or political figure in mind, Buffalo Exchange will help you get exactly the right look. In October, they always add more costume friendly accessories and attire to their selection.

If you need a little cash for your costume this year, bring in those jeans from the back of your closet and that jacket you never wear and take advantage of the exchange. They can give you store credit or cash on the spot when you bring in your unwanted, lightly used clothing. For more information about buying, selling, and trading at Buffalo Exchange visit: www.buffaloexchange.com or check them out at 238 Elm Street in Davis Square or at their Allston location at 180 Harvard Ave.



5. Army Barracks – A life-size marine statue stands at attention on the sidewalk to greet you as you make your way to the camouflage jump suits, bandanas, helmets, and dog tags. If an army soldier, marine, naval officer, jungle safari hunter, or Rambo is all you ever dreamed of being for Halloween, Army Barracks is here to help. An accommodating and enthusiastic staff is always ready to assist you, making shopping quick and easy. Add a camouflage vest and military insignia to give your costume that extra edge and head off to the party. If you’re still going to be a princess for Halloween, stop by Army Barracks anyway for an exceptional shopping experience. In addition to toy guns and aviator sunglasses, many shoppers praise Army Barracks for providing apparel that can actually stand up to tough New England winters, including real wool coats and Carhartt pants and boots.


6. Blick Art Materials – If you’re still determined on making your Halloween costume from scratch, despite being short on time, don’t fret. Blick Art Materials at 401 Park Drive in Boston has all the supplies needed to make an outrageous, spectacular costume at home. Blick stocks all the crafting must-haves: glue, glitter, ribbons, paint, foam, felt, buttons, tie-dye, yarn, and even wiggly stick-on eyeballs. Look for the plastic face masks for a quick craft project. These pre-made masks are perfect for creating a “Phantom of the Opera” costume or Shakespearean masquerade ball attire.

If you’re a beginner crafter hoping to make this Halloween your crafting debut, Blick carries a wide selection of books and how-to manuals to help you each step of the way. If you don’t have time for books, the expert staff is always available to give tips and tricks on how to get the best results. To save time, visit Blick online at http://www.dickblick.com and create a shopping list so that you can get in and out and still have plenty of time to create your masterpiece.

Don’t get caught without a costume this year. From inspiration to materials, these top retail resources will have everything you need. And remember, costume shopping works best when accompanied by friends, so get a group and get hunting for that Halloween costume you’ve always dreamed of.


1. The Garment District & Boston Costume - 200 Broadway, Kendall Square, Cambridge 
2. Dorothy's Boutique - 190 Mass Ave, Boston
3. The Goodwill Store - 230 Elm Street, Davis Square, Somerville
4. Buffalo Exchange - 238 Elm Street, Davis Square, Somerville
5. Army Barracks - 173 Mass Ave, Boston
6. Blick - 401 Park Drive, Boston & 619 Mass Ave, Central Square, Cambridge

Rescue Me Review

 
The FX hit series “Rescue Me” is a dramatic comedy that ran from 2004 until 2011. The show stars Denis Leary (also the creator and main writer), Daniel Sanjata, Adam Ferrara, and Callie Thorne. Taking place in New York City, the show focuses on the lives of firefighters from truck 62 post 9/11. With the burden of 9/11 sitting heavily on the shoulders of these men, the viewer gets some insight as to how they cope with the demons from their past and adjust to the troubles life brings them.
                Tommy Gavin, played by Denis Leary, is an extremely colorful character. Throughout the series, Gavin battles his alcoholism and substance abuse issues as he tries to save his turbulent marriage. Being present during the collapse of the twin towers, Gavin has been left feeling “empty” and “dead on the inside.” He is haunted by the ghost of his cousin Jimmy whose left middle finger was the only remain found at the scene.  Along with his traumatic past, Gavin also has to overcome countless hardships throughout the series. It takes the full seven seasons of the series for Tommy and his wife to finally make amends and pursue their marriage. Tommy loses his mother to a heart attack, his father to age, his son who was hit by a car, his brother who was shot dead, Chief Riley who committed suicide, and his best friend Lieutenant Ken Shea. Gavin represents the hard-nosed, old school firefighter who has a sheer passion for his job. When Chief Riley commits suicide following the death of his wife and his retirement, Gavin is one of the first people to report to the scene. Because the two men shard such a deep friendship, Gavin writes “heart attack” in the medical report so that Riley would not be seen as a “coward.”
Lieutenant Ken Shea, played by John Scurti, and otherwise known as “Lou” is Tommy’s best friend. Lou turns to poetry as an outlet to cope with his troubling past. While sarcastic and witty, Lou also has a big heart. He has a strong passion for the job and feels that he would be “lost” without it.  Late in the series, Lou is told that he will be unable to continue working because he has a serious heart condition. In order to pass the physical examination required yearly, all of the men in the firehouse take turns completing parts of the physical while they pose as Lou. This particular act showed a great bond between the men. It was evident that every man understood what life would be like had they not been able to be with their “brothers” on the job. Fittingly, it is also Lou’s heart that is his strength as he has a genuine care for every one of the men that work underneath him. In the second to last episode Lou dies in a horrific fire. As the commander during the fire, Lou did not want to send his men in on a suicide mission. Instead, he assured them that everything would be okay. Lou knew that he only had a short period of time to live because of his ongoing heart condition, and could not bear to put the lives of his men in danger. The character of the lieutenant symbolizes a great selflessness and care for others.
Character Sean Garrity, played by Steven Pasquale, is naïve and childlike, yet sensitive. His character represents some of the injustices that go along with being a New York City fire fighter. Stricken by cancer due to the ingestion of different chemicals while working on the 9/11 cleanup, Sean learns that unless he is willing to lose his job forever, the firefighters union will not cover his treatment. He keeps his illness secret, but eventually his colleagues catch wind of the news. They soon put up money for Sean, and he is cancer free following his surgery. Sean serves as comedic relief during much of the dramatic parts of the show. At any time during a depressing or somber scene, Sean will pop in with a wisecrack or a puzzling remark.
The issue of alcoholism and substance abuse is a common theme throughout the show’s lifetime. On many different occasions Tommy finds himself hooked on some sort of painkiller or in the middle of a drunken rage. Tommy’s father, uncle, cousin, and sister are all alcoholics. Franco Riveira, played by Daniel Sanjata, becomes addicted to the prescription painkiller vicodin. Franco’s addiction in particular shows how any man is susceptible to substance issues.
The show also touches upon some of the issues that were ongoing in the real world. The issue of homosexuals in the fire department has an entire episode dedicated to it (Season 1: episode 2). Chief Riley, who we later learn has a son who is a homosexual, takes offense to comments made by a current firefighter to a local newspaper. Also, for a few seasons, a woman joins truck 62. This was an issue that was extremely prevalent during the mid-2000’s. “Rescue Me” takes a look into some of the pro’s and con’s of having a woman on the force. Most men in the house cited the physical aspect of the job as their main concern for women.
Denis Leary does an excellent job of bringing these issues to life through his own character of Tommy Gavin, and the creation of the others. The depth of the characters gives the viewer a feeling of closeness to each individual. Throughout the series we are able to predict how each character will react to certain situations and why. Leary, who himself was on the scene following the plane crashes at the World Trade Center, should be credited by his truly genius creation.

Monday, October 24, 2011


Anti-Oppression Workshop@ Occupy Boston 
Dewey Square, 10/16/11


Never have I been so happy to be outside in the cold and dark sitting on the wet ground illegally.  There I was shooting video with a dying battery and inadequate light, contemplating my whiteness in a crowd of 250 people.  I don’t even like crowds of 25, and I certainly don’t feel comfortable contemplating my race.  I’m drawing a distinction here between comfort and joy.  What I felt last night was pure joy within the inevitable discomfort.  
Yes Occupy Boston, it’s high time to get deep and dirty in this movement.  I set out to write an article about who is participating in the Occupy Boston Movement and who is excluded.  “It looks like Bonnaroo without the music” a classmate said two weeks ago, “I want to participate, but I work two jobs and I can’t .” “Actually, oftentimes there is music” I replied.  “Is it time for the college kids to go back to their dorms?” a friend said after the early morning raid and mass arrest on October 11.  
Contrast this cynicism from the outside with the comment a participant made as I entered the camp on Saturday.  “Do you see this?” he said “It reminds me of a shanty town, in some third world country” he was beaming.  I assume it was pride that made him smile so widely, but I didn’t ask.  I looked down and moved away while thinking “Third World, huh? I believe you mean the Two Thirds World (haven’t read much Malcolm X?)and obviously you’ve never taken the time to visit one because “shantytowns” are not created out of NorthFace tents and so sparsely populated by such self-assured, well-fed, safe adult people.”  I could’ve continued contrasting Occupy Boston to a so-called shantytown, but I don’t enjoy bitterness so I let it go.  
If I had written this article Saturday, Friday, Thursday or Wednesday, I would’ve had to write about these criticisms and the many manifestations of such throughout the movement.  However, I saw a sign that said Sunday there would be an Anti-Racism/Anti-Oppression Training from 7-9pm.  Knowing this is the standard time of the General Assembly, I assumed that it was a protest of the protest.  I was down for that.  I wondered what space the workshop would take and how loud it would be.  
 It wasn’t until I showed up that I realized the General Assembly had voted by majority (a problem we’ll have to put aside for now is that if the majority is “ruling” the minority in voting we still have a form of dominance) to actually hold the workshop on the main stage in place of the normal General Assembly.  That was when I started to take heart.  

At 7pm a participant took the people’s mike.  “We will be using race as a lens through which to view the way oppression works.  In future discussions and in break outs tonight, we can also think of ways in which other forms of oppression are present in our broader society and within Occupy Boston.  We are hoping that coming out of this we can begin to practice working together in ways that do not oppress or exclude people from historically oppressed groups and communities.”
The next facilitator explained some rules, and why they are important, “The “step up, step back rule” means that those people who talk more will use this opportunity to practice listening, and those people who tend to shy away from speaking publicly will find it in themselves to share their perspectives with us, we think that only this way will we begin to surface what this entire community feels.”  
She also explained that someone on a computer was keeping notes from tonight so that we can share them back with you and we can plan our next steps. “We are committed to making the notes from tonight public” she said. You can see them at http://occupyboston.wikispaces.com/Anti-Oppression+Workshop+Notes+-+October+16,+2011
Steve Schnopp, from United for A Fair Economy took the stage.  He spoke his gratitude for being in the company of wonderful people. He then introduced a five minute movie clip to be projected on the wall behind him, and led a basic anti-oppression exercise. 
When the crowd heard that the movie clip was from May 1, there were cheers. May 1, is a movie depicting a strike of mainly Appalachian workers. The coal company owners try to break the strike by importing  other workers from other places in the country.  They bring in African Americans from deeper in the south and Italian immigrants. This particular scene is a clandestine meeting of Union organizers that one of the African American Coal miners comes into, and there’s an outside organizer. The most memorable line is when this outside organizer says something like “ A Union that doesn’t let every worker in is no Union.  It’s a club.”
After the screening he explained the exercise, and asked for volunteers.  He didn’t name it, but the exercise was introduced to me as the Line of Privilege, I’ve also heard it called the Walk of Privilege.  It’s very simple.  Everyone starts out shoulder to shoulder.  In front is the space that represents wealth. 
“There is the top 1% and the other 99% but the other 99% is not homogenous.”  he said.  The brave group of about twenty took the stage, listened and moved as he read out statements.  
If your ancestors;
lost land to the conquest by the US government take a step back.
got land in grants from the US government take a step forward.
took advantage of the Homestead Act take a step forward.
gained assets through the Slave Trade take a step forward.
were brought here in chains to be slaved take a step back.
were restricted to living in ethnic communities because of their race or ethnicity take a step back. 
could live anywhere they wanted to take a step forward. 
had a right to go to the public school of their choice take a step forward.
after becoming citizens had to sue for a public education take a step back.
If your ancestors or you; 
were admitted to college on a legacy admission take a step forward.  
lost property due to internment after WWII take a step back.
worked in jobs that provided health or retirement benefits take a step forward.
were denied health or retirement benefits take a step back.
arrived as an immigrant from Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa or Asia.
were banned from Union Membership take a step back.
were members of a Union take a step forward.
If you or your family; 
were denied a mortgage because your neighborhood was redlined take a step back.  
were offered a subprime mortgage and ended up in foreclosure or eviction take a step back.   
were able to get a mortgage in the neighborhood of your choice take a step forward.  
At some points we stopped for clarification.  What is the Homestead Act? Were people really excluded from Social Security? and so on.  If you want details check out the footage on Occupy Boston’s website.  

I think anyone could guess from these questions how the group of volunteers ended up. Mr. Schnopp then asked us to turn to our neighbors to discuss the following questions.  
“What meaning do you draw from this that you want to apply to the movement you are building”?
“What do you see here that applies to your own behavior in Occupy Boston”?
“What is the meaning of this for you and for the movement”?

We had a few minutes to talk with our neighbors. 

 won’t go into too much detail about the remainder of the evening.  It was similar in quality and tone.  A short presentation on the definition and ways of Oppression was shared by facilitators and volunteers holding signs.  “Oppression is when prejudice+power combine to form systems that privilege some at the expense of others”.  The Iceberg model was shared, along with the four I’s of oppression which are internalized, ideological, institutional,and interpersonal. The group named different forms of oppression aside from racism, that operate in the same way. Classism, fat phobia, sexism and many others were named.  Then we took a brief census of the meeting to get a sense of the demographics.  


As a visual check would tell, and as has been noted, the group was not actually representative of the 99%.  Comparing the results of the internal census with the statistics of Boston, Occupy Boston is more privileged than the population.  It would seem to exclusive.  This is confusing since virtually the only agreement is that everyone is committed to social justice for all, nonviolently of course.  All the notes and the full results are available online on the Occupy Boston website if you want to check them out.  http://occupyboston.wikispaces.com/Anti-Oppression+Workshop+Notes+-+October+16,+2011Then we broke out into groups of 10 with 1 facilitator.  We spoke about our own encounters with racism, from a first person perspective.  
Next we came back to the group and people shared “popcorn style” what they would like to see happen to address what has started to be discussed.  We also filled out index cards with a response and contact info if we are interested in further anti-oppression work in this style. 
 “I want to see less talk about college debt and more talk about kids not graduating high school” one participant said to cheers.  There were many other suggestions.  The crowd seemed a bit dazed by the pain of such introspection.  Anti-oppression training has been offered not just locally but across the country.  I think the participants took the workshop seriously.  I expect it will take some time for the experience to be processed.  This is an exciting development within Occupy. Cross-movement organization is necessary if the folks at Dewey Square really want to represent the 99%.  Anti-oppression training has been offered not just locally but across the country. 



Some Links 












Saturday, October 22, 2011

Author Profile: Cecilia Tan

Cecilia Tan keeps busy. Writer, editor, business owner, martial artist, musician, foodie -- she is a woman of many and varied interests. Amazon.com’s “About the Author” starts: “Susie Bright calls Cecilia Tan ‘simply one of the most important writers, editors, and innovators in contemporary American erotic literature.’” A long-term resident of Cambridge, MA, she went down to her hometown of New York City at the end of September to cheer on her favorite baseball team, the New York Yankees, and to sample some of the local cuisine in the city’s world-class restaurants and friendly hidden gems. Aside from the Yankees getting knocked out of the pennant race, she had a very enjoyable trip.


Cecilia Tan
A blogger since the age before weblogs, with a journal that dates back to 1996, ctan -- her common nom de guerre -- writes early and often about her life, her projects and her passions on her website. We spoke from Boston to New York.
Jacob Sommer: I haven't yet met a writer who wasn't first an inveterate reader.  What kind of books did you like to read before you were an author? What new books do you read, and what books do you reread?
Cecilia Tan: You may be shocked by this, then, but I read almost no prose fiction for pleasure nowadays. That wasn't always the case. For many years I would always be reading four books at a time: one fiction in the genre (science fiction fantasy), one fiction not in the genre, one nonfiction, and one critical or personal essay. I probably kept that up for 6-7 years after I left grad school. But now if I read two novels a year for leisure, that's a lot. 
It basically comes down to this: if I could spend an hour sitting and reading, I would rather spend that hour sitting and WRITING. There's never enough time to write in a writer's life. I have also learned over the years that as a writer/reader, I am an introvert. Being introduced to lots of new people drains me, and being introduced to new characters who aren't my own drains me creatively. So I very carefully limit my intake of new stories, because I am a fiction introvert. That includes not only not reading books but I don't watch TV, and I only see maybe 3-4 movies a year. 
It also explains why I tend to stick with a series. Reading more about the same characters is less draining than reading entirely new ones. The one series I'm most hooked on is Naomi Novik's His Majesty's Dragon books, which are wonderfully written. I plan to read more Holly Black soon; her "Tithe" was a perfect book. 
Being a fiction introvert, though, means re-reading is okay. I re-read various books of Roger Zelazny every few years, [including] “Nine Princes in Amber,” “Eye of Cat,” [and] “Roadmarks.” I re-read the entire Lord of the Rings a few years back, including all the appendices, and then worked my way through “The Silmarillion” again, though I probably won't do that again. I've re-read the Harry Potter books probably twice all the way through from beginning to end, with re-reads of some of the individual books here and there. That also means reading fan fiction is a fine thing for me, where the characters and world is completely known. I've probably read 2-3 million words of Harry Potter fanfic in the past ten years. 

JS: Most people don't make the leap from reading to professional writing. How did you first get into it, and what was your first piece?
CTan: I always knew I wanted to be a writer. When I was four, I figured out the secret of phonics and boom, I was off and writing before anyone told me there was such a thing as correct spelling. Most kids would draw a picture on a piece of manila paper. I'd fold it over, write a title on the cover, "Th End" on the back (no one had told me about the "schwa" yet), and then draw a picture and caption it like a children's book inside. 
My first "real" story, as far as I was concerned was "Telepaths Don't Need Safewords." I was out of college, working a day job in publishing, and trying to write at night and on weekends. I wrote a bunch of science fiction stories that were okay, but not brilliant. Then I wrote "Telepaths" and I just felt I was onto something. I felt for the first time I'd written strong characters, an interesting plot, and created an intriguing world. The fact that the story was also erotic and also mixed science fiction with BDSM subculture, and the fact that this combination would make it unpublishable by any commercial magazine or publisher, didn't enter my mind. I just knew I'd done it: I'd written a good story. 
It wasn't until I went to try to sell it that I realized I'd have to start my own company so there would be a place for that type of material. So I self-published the story in a chapbook with three other stories, but I also kept striving to be "professionally" published. I was receiving several signs from the universe at the time that if I wanted to really make a go of a writing career, I needed to put more of my energy into that and less into my book publishing day job. 
I finally decided to bite the bullet and quit the job to start a masters program in writing. How's this for a sign? On my very last day at the office, I got home to find my first acceptance letter from a professional publication. It was from Susie Bright, who was editing the Herotica series at the time as well as acquiring one story a month for Penthouse. I think that first acceptance was for Herotica, and then a month or so later Susie bought a piece for Penthouse as well. The rest, as the cliche goes, is history. 

JS: It's even harder to find an author who has become a successful publisher than it is to find a reader who took up the pen. What led you to create Circlet Press?
CTan: Well, see [the] above anecdote about the unpublishable story. I suppose a lot of people would have "trunked" (put the manuscript in a trunk and otherwise forget about it - JS) a story like "Telepaths Don't Need Safewords." Actually I KNOW a lot of people did, because as soon as I opened Circlet Press, I started getting submissions from professional science fiction writers whose main reaction was, "Yay! I finally have a place to send those trunk stories that were too sexy for the mainstream!" I was amazed that writers I admired were meeting me at conventions and admiring ME.
That only confirmed for me that I did the right thing in creating a publishing house. I wasn't the only one with a voice that needed to be heard, and I was the right person to do it at the right time. I had been working in book publishing for three years at that point, so I knew the business. And here we are almost 20 years later and we're still in business, despite the book industry's major upheavals, disasters, and changes. 

JS: Your "Magic University" series has concluded with the fourth book in the series.  What was your inspiration for the storyline?
CTan: Well, the elevator pitch is that it's Harry Potter for adults, or perhaps that should be adult as in X-rated. But it's much more than that of course. J.K. Rowling wasn't the first to write a magic school story, nor a Cinderella story, so I riff on those same elements--but I am highly aware that everyone in the world has read Harry Potter. As such, I get to poke gentle fun of it from time to time. 


Cover of "Magic University: The Siren and The Sword"
The main thing that I wanted to do in the books, though, was challenge the fantasy notion that there always has to be a Battle Between Good! And! Evil! Why can't a story about magic NOT be about the struggle between good and evil? Since the publisher is a romance publisher, I thought it would be the perfect place to take a multi-book quest story where the quest is not to Defeat Evil but to find true love. There are struggles, and some of them are magical, but they aren't against a dark villain. If anything, the characters are more prone to struggle against the darkness inside themselves. The books are ultimately a paean to the fact that the world isn't evenly divided into good and evil, or even into male and female or gay and straight. 

JS: Your professional writing seems to be predominantly erotica and baseball.  How different are they to write? How do you reconcile the two? For that matter, have you ever written a book about both?
CTan: Anything that a person is passionate about, they should be able to write about. The main difference between the erotica and the baseball is that most (but not all) of the erotica writing is fiction, and most (but not all) of the baseball writing is nonfiction. I have combined them from time to time, though. Most recently I wrote an erotic romance novel called “The Hot Streak,” where a nice girl meets a ballplayer. [Naturally,] hijinks ensue. I'm under contract to write another erotic baseball novel for Ravenous Romance, too, but the next one they want to be a gay one. So I'm working on that. 
JS: What was your favorite piece to write, and why?
CTan: I can't pick a favorite any more than a mother could choose one favorite child. If I were the sort of writer who only worked on one thing at a time, my "favorite" thing would probably always be the thing that I was working on at the time. But I'm usually working on three or four things at a time, so even from among those I couldn't choose. Every book or story has something special and enjoyable about it -- if they didn't, I wouldn't be bothering to write them. 
JS: Is there a subject you'd like to write more about?
CTan: I'd love to write more about food and travel, possibly together. But I only have so much writing time, and the gigs I have keep me fairly well busy these days, so starting yet another writing career -- which is what it is when one dabbles in a new genre -- is something I don't quite have time for. I have a blog about tea and I'll have to be satisfied with writing sporadic entries there, I suppose. 

JS: OK - you live in Boston. Why do you love the Yankees?
CTan: [*shrugs*] Born and raised in New York City. Next question? 

JS: [*smiles*] You get the last word, so what would you like to highlight? 
CTan: Last word! I'll just mention that there's plenty of my writing that can be read and enjoyed free on the Internet. Two full serials are available. For those who like a lot of sex and high fantasy, there is “The Prince's Boy," which was serialized over the course of two years on circlet.com. The other serial is “Daron's Guitar Chronicles,” which is a 1980s coming-out story about a young rock guitarist trying to make it big. His biggest obstacle to happiness, if not fame, is his own internalized homophobia. There are 200 chapters of Daron's Guitar Chronicles so far, and more to come.


 cover of "Darron's Guitar Chronicles Volume Two"
Cecilia Tan’s final book in her Magic University series, “Magic University: The Poet and the Prophecy,is available at Amazon.com for Kindle-enabled devices, along with the previous three volumes.  For more information about Cecilia Tan, please visit her website at http://www.ceciliatan.com/

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Allston.

Heading West from downtown on Commonwealth Avenue, you pass the tired and warm brick buildings of Back Bay. With its uneven, root-skewed sidewalks and the oaks and elms that shade them, you feel peaceful, eased into reverie, swallowed by one of the stately entrance ways, or turned to ash by the fire that burns beneath the ornate marble moulding of a wealthy Bostonian’s mantel. You cross Massachusetts Avenue and enter Kenmore Square, alive with the spectres of a century’s worth of crowds at Fenway Park, Boston’s most famous building. The Citgo sign, a sacred monument, beckons you with its 218,000 gaudy neon bulbs. You pass out of Kenmore, traipsing alongside the Green Line, when things begin to lose their hand-worn luster. While peppered with the monoliths that are some of Boston University’s historic buildings, the route becomes much more tedious, significantly more modern and lacking in character. Eventually, after approximately a mile of sub-par pizza joints, chain pharmacies, restaurants, and ugly Boston University undergraduates, you enter Allston.

Allston is an island, connected to the rest of Boston only by the thin stretch of Commonwealth Avenue between Kenmore Square and Packard’s Corner. On the south, you have the quiet and shady town of Brookline. On the north, the Charles River. While there are other neighborhoods in Boston that contain many students, none is quite as defined by its college population as Allston is. For some, this is what gives the neighborhood its unique character. To others, this is what keeps the neighborhood run down and lacking in decent entertainment and food options. It seems that many business owners, landlords, and even civil employees don’t take the tastes and concerns of students as seriously as other people’s.

People perpetuate this idea of Allston as an arts and cultural hub, but when it is closely examined, the scene is extremely stunted and undeveloped. Perhaps, in the nineties, when there was a distinctive Boston music scene and sound to speak of, Allston was considered one of its birthplaces and homes. Now, however, despite a small contingent of holdouts from this era, (take a look at some of the grisly characters sitting at the bar at Silhouette) Allston seems to have lost its character. While diversity often contributes to a neighborhood’s ability to captivate its residents, the diversity in Allston seems to prevent the place from developing any sort of distinct, positive identity. The neighborhood, while diverse, is almost completely segregated. It seems that there are two kinds of housing. Student housing, which is mostly triple deckers and the row houses on Commonwealth Avenue, and small communities of first or second generation Central Americans. Apparently, there is a large Russian population, but I have only noticed that in the form of one small grocery store on Cambridge Street. There is also a large Asian population, many of whom are also college students, and they seem to have centered their businesses, mostly restaurants, on the North side of Brighton Avenue.

When you enter the section of streets between Brighton Avenue, Cambridge Street, Harvard Avenue and Malvern Street, it feels as though you are in some kind of magical, lawless forest. Large bands of unruly twentysomethings motor by on makeshift gas powered scooters. You can hear them from blocks away due to their inadequate or nonexistent mufflers. Tumbleweeds of trash blow along the curb, left over by indifferent garbage men. “It’s Allston, they won’t give a shit.” On weekend evenings, herds of young women, 18-22, clomp by in high heels and tight dresses, cackling in the ugly manner of oblivious drunks. They are often accompanied by smaller groups of young men of all varieties. They prowl for unattached sex and free alcohol, both of which can often be obtained at house parties within the forest. You might even dangle a nip of Seagram’s by a fishing line off of the porch in front of these girls, and convince one to have sex with you, but beware, she will be sloppy and inexperienced, and you may be accused of rape when she wakes up in the morning and realizes that her life has spiraled out of control. Or if you’re lucky, you will snare one of the aforementioned oblivious ones, who doesn’t even have the presence of mind or moral framework to be capable of regret.

If you manage to escape the clutches of the forest, you will be greeted by Allston’s half-assed downtown, the strip of Harvard Avenue from Cambridge Street to Commonwealth Avenue. On this, you will find all varieties of shitty, half-assed take out restaurants that feel no compulsion to be creative because of their demographics.
However, in this sea of useless, bed bug infested thrift stores, sketchy Dentists’ offices, and rat nests, there are a few gems.

Azama Grill serves outstanding Middle Eastern fare. They have an interesting take on french fries: thick cut with “Azama spices” and a mysterious, white, mayonnaise-based sauce. Delicious. The chicken shawarma plate, with sides of Egyptian salad (a mixture of cucumbers, tomatoes, and some other kind of pickled vegetable), rice pilaf, and fresh Syrian bread, is one of the largest meals you will find for under eight dollars in the whole neighborhood. The staff is also super friendly. They have been known to forgive people for drunkenly passing out after ordering elaborate feasts and never picking them up, and are a good group of guys to bullshit with if you show up a little early for your takeout.

A few doors down Harvard Avenue at The Draft, one of the biggest shitholes in town, complete with sticky floors and a truly cretinous cast of regulars, you can get killer deals on wings and other classic bar fare. It’s a great place to catch a game, if you don’t mind skanks with Milan Lucic jerseys on, wordlessly exclaiming in high pitched voices, marvelling at how much fun they appear to be having. But seriously, there are a lot of televisions and a great, laid back patio area out back, with furniture straight out of your parents’ backyard and an outdoor fireplace. You can even smoke cigarettes out there. Twenty five cent wings on Sundays and Mondays after 6:00 PM. Also, ladies - for some reason everyone who works there is fucking insanely jacked, so if you’re into meatballs, this is your new spot. You can probably find these guys at Tavern in the Square, too, but I don’t go in there without full haz-mat gear on, and my full face respirator is broken right now, so I can’t confirm that.

But perhaps after all of this feasting you are eager to relieve your stomach with a nice stroll or some other physical activity. Straddling the Allston-Brighton-Brookline border, the park at the summit of Summit Avenue offers pretty okay views of Allston, Brookline, and depending on the season, the downtown skyline. The park consists of a vast forty degree angle hill that is impractical for any use but sitting down. About halfway down the hill is a beautiful oak tree that must be hundreds of years old. It is a wonderful place to spend about forty five minutes to an hour. Well, maybe like half an hour. You might feel obligated to hang out for a while, because the uphill walk is a bitch. I guess it’s worth it.

If you walk down Allston Street towards Commonwealth Avenue, you will find Ringer Park, a legendary spot. Located directly behind an elementary school, you can toss a football and get heckled from the windows by children who are exploiting their underpaid teachers’ indifference. If you wander up the hill to the basketball courts, you better make sure you left your cell phone and wallet at home, because they are definitely not safe nestled under a sweatshirt at the base of the hoop. Replete with asphalt warped by the roots of old trees, these courts are great if you like being called a faggot by urban high school kids every time you take a shot. Amongst clouds of blunt smoke, they also like to yell “brick” and “pussy” at every opportunity. They really know how to take advantage of those laws that prohibit adults from assaulting minors.

If you can get by the crowd of boring shitheads standing in line outside of Tavern, you will find the two decent bars in Allston further down Brighton Avenue. First, on the corner of Allston Street is Silhouette Lounge, a serial recipient of Boston Magazine’s “Best Dive Bar” award. It features cheap pitchers, free popcorn, and a room dedicated to darts. You’re probably not going to find a venereal-disease-free member of the opposite sex here, but it’s a good place to listen to Thin Lizzy and rabble rouse with the fellas. Also - a good place to take a date to find out if she’s high maintenance or stuck up. Beware, however, if you have ever experienced incontinence. It is extremely difficult for a man to take a shit here. There is no door on the stall in the bathroom, presumably to prevent people from doing the shitty coke that you can acquire from one of the regulars off of the bacteria-infested toilet seat. Keep that in mind, when you’re drinking your fifth pint of Miller High Life, stuffing popcorn down your throat, and chain smoking butts.

Further down Brighton Avenue, where it intersects with Cambridge Street lies Deep Ellum. Deep Ellum, named after some shitty hipster neighborhood in Dallas or something, is actually a pretty great bar. Adorned with old-fashioned, belt-driven ceiling fans, dark wood, and a buffalo skull, the atmosphere is perfect for an early evening cocktail or a casual meal. Although they charge four dollars for a fucking Hebrew National hot dog, their menu offers a lot of solid, interesting options. The Reuben is spectacular, although it has been spelled “Rueben” on the menu for at least a year, the error surviving other changes to the menu. What the fuck is that all about? I guess it’s hard to fuck up a Reuben, though, so I’m not sure how commendable their performance is in this area. The Pork Belly appetizer is also excellent, accompanied by some sweet, mashed up corn type of shit. The skin on top is perfectly braised, and the meat is fatty and literally becomes liquid in your mouth. They also have a charcuterie plate that is pretty damn expensive, but if you are into pate and weird cured sausage and shit like that, it just might change your life. If you’re thirsty, they make an excellent Old Fashioned, which consists of rye, maraschino cherry, orange zest, and bitters. In addition to their impressive cocktail list, the bar boasts an array of hard to find microbrews, and at least three quarters of the staff is likable.

When you walk down Cambridge Street towards the Pike, you come to a foot bridge. If you look East at a certain time of evening, past the freight yards and the river, you can see the sun reflecting off the John Hancock Building. You can see the fading sunlight hit the gold dome of the state house and illuminate the brownstones of Back Bay. Beyond that, the Financial District, and beyond that, the islands of the harbor. Airplanes depart in all directions from Logan Airport. Lights switch on in the buildings downtown. Wealthy women straighten their hair in marble bathrooms and boring fat guys ask their female coworkers to get a quick cocktail after work and are rejected. Somewhere, a teenager is arrested for shoplifting. A homeless man pats a child on the head and coughs up blood. But you are oblivious to it all, lost somewhere in Allston.

Azama Grill
azamagrill.com
54 Harvard Avenue
Allston, MA 02134

The Draft
thedraftbarandgrille.com
34 Harvard Avenue
Allston, MA 02134

Silhouette Lounge
200 Brighton Avenue
Allston, MA 02134

Deep Ellum
deepellum-boston.com
477 Cambridge Street
Allston, MA 02135

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Acclaimed Author K.C. Frederick Reads at UMass

By Nick DeLuca


K.C. Frederick stood at the podium, his gaunt face almost releasing a smile in response to the warm applause from his audience. Dubbed “a great author and an even better friend” by constituent Shaun O’Connell, Frederick graced the University of Massachusetts Boston with an excerpt from his book After Lyletown.

The story revolves around the protagonist, Allen, a successful lawyer with a past that comes to haunt him. Frederick’s crafty descriptions of the revolutionary actions in the 1960’s act as a time machine catapulting the audience into an era of political unrest. The verbal illustrations of Allen “flying from smoking cannabis” and his viewing of “posters on the wall of Dylan, Che and Stokely, like the saints in old churches, the measure of our dreams and aspirations” allow the audience to set themselves next to Allen in radical America.


Frederick describes his writing process as being simply “a matter of trust.” The author of over 40 works of prose consisting of short stories and novels, Frederick, a former English professor at UMass Boston, wowed the audience with his eloquent narrative and personified reading. 



Modern Family is Contemporary Genius


By Nick DeLuca

I anxiously await Wednesday nights. Wednesday nights are a time when I can put any work on hold for a half an hour, take a load off with a bowl of buttery popcorn, and truly lose myself in hilarity. Wednesday nights at 9:00 p.m., Modern Family is on ABC.

(Left to right)
Top Row: Phil, Gloria, Manny, Jay, Cam, Lilly
Middle Row: Haley, Claire, Mitchell
Bottom Row: Like, Alex


I was introduced to the show two years ago after a hellish week of final exams. A friend invited me into his room, told me to relax and get ready to laugh like I never had before. I recall having seen the advertisements and trailers for it before and was always slightly interested, but I just never was invested enough to sit down to watch. After mere minutes, my stomach hurt from laughing so hard and my face was damp from tears running down my face.

Modern Family revolves around a diverse extended family shot in a mockumentary style similar to The Office—another acclaimed television comedy. The patriarch is Jay Pritchett, the father to Mitchell Pritchett and Claire Dunphy. Jay is remarried to younger Colombian spitfire Gloria, who has a young fifth grade son named Manny from her first marriage. Mitchell and his partner Cam adopted their daughter Lilly from Vietnam while Claire is the typical stay at home mother to rebellious high school senior Haley, middle school prodigy Alex, and aimless fifth-grader Luke. Her husband is a quirky and juvenile real estate agent, Phil Dunphy.

The family tree

Every week, the family encounters what most would think of as simple everyday-type events. However, this modern family’s unconventional behavior catapults it into the realm of the extraordinary.

Writers Steve Levitan and Christopher Lloyd have generated a television show with a precise mixture of uproarious dialogue and slapstick comedy. Each season consists of a different running joke that carries on through the season’s entirety. In the first season, different characters tripping down the stairs in the Dunphy household because of a lose step that Phil forgets to fix.

“Gotta fix that step,” recites the character as they recover from the heap of limbs they have been tossed into.

Levitan and Lloyed conceived the show after bouncing around stories of their own respective families. They pitched the idea to four major television networks, three of which declined due to style formatting problems and doubt in its acceptance by the audience. It was eventually picked up by ABC and premiered to 12.61 million viewers.

The success of the show has also garnered the interest of established Hollywood celebrities. Superstar cameos include Shelley Long, Jay Pritchett’s spacey yet unstable ex-wife and mother to Mitchell and Claire; Matt Dillon, Claire’s high school boyfriend living a life with as little responsibility as possible; Edward Norton, the bass player from the one-hit-wonder band Spandau Ballet who recites a truly terrible rendition of their song “True”; and Nathan Lane as Pepper Saltzman, Mitchell and Cam’s eccentric and competitive gay friend.

Since 2009, the show has collected numerous awards and accolades. It has been nominated for four Golden Globe Awards, won 8 out of 21 Emmy Awards, and has won 1 out of 5 Screen Actors Guild Awards.

However, the success doesn’t come without controversy. Modern Family drew criticism from the LGBT community for its hesitant and unaffectionate relationship between Mitchell and Cam. This criticism led to the creation of a Facebook group demanding that the two couples kiss on screen. It was noted in an early episode that Mitchell is uncomfortable with public displays of affection, though Levitan and Lloyd were hoping to incorporate a kiss as “part of the development of the show.”

Some of the funniest moments in the show stem from simple yet awkward moments. In season 2, Mitchell dresses up as Spider-Man for Halloween and realizes that the employees at his firm never dress up. He tries to change back into a suit but his pants fall into the bathroom toilet. He then tries to climb out the window as the real Spider-Man would to retrieve the dry cleaning from his car. Another is Claire and Phil’s anniversary. They try to channel their inner, deviant selves by role-playing as sexy characters that meet by chance in a hotel bar. While riding the escalator up to the lobby, Claire’s jacket gets stuck and it is disclosed that she is naked underneath. Chance encounters by her neighbors, children’s teachers, and Jay and Gloria make this uncomfortable comical scene outrageously hilarious.
Mitchell as Spider-Man

Witty dialogue is also a staple in the show. In an episode where Gloria’s dog, Stella, runs away on a sweltering day, she enlists the help of Cam who, wearing a v-neck t-shirt, realizes the parallelism of him calling for Stella in a similar scene from On the Waterfront and acts like Marlon Brando, screaming “Stella! Stella.”

Another is when Phil is trying to justify his friend-like style of parenting by telling the camera he is just like one of the kids.

"I text. LOL: laugh out loud, OMG: Oh, my god, WTF: Why the face?"

Modern Family is my favorite show on television. Hands down. It has skyrocketed into the upper echelon of not only television comedy, but television programming as a whole. Last season, Modern Family was the highest rated scripted show in the 18-49 demographic and the third highest rated overall. It airs every Wednesday night at 9:00 p.m., so if you’re looking to put reality on hold for a half an hour and lose yourself in a fit of laughter, I highly suggest you watch it.