The Glee of “Grilled Cheesus”

First the admission – then the issue.

Admission – I watch Glee.  I could make a litany of excuses, but suffice to say, I once played Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls, have seen more than a few dozen (like 5 dozen or so) musicals/operas, am constantly amazed by the vocal ability of the actors on the show, and just plain like a good song sung well.  I could do without the plots and dialogue and questionable moral choices, etc., etc., etc. – but I do like the voices and Lea Michelle is about as good as they come.

If you missed it, and you might have missed it, last week Glee did a show called “Grilled Cheesus” where one of the main characters cooks up a tasty grilled cheese (I like those too, with our without a song) and sees the image of Jesus burned into the bread.  From there the plot unfolds and so do the offensive, dare I say blasphemous (praying over an image of Christ in the hope of fondling a girl’s chest), depictions of Christ and Christianity.  If you want the full details you can go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grilled_Cheesus , or you can just trust me that the show went there and brought the atheist anti-dumb Christian perspective along for the ride.

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Quick Hits

It's been awhile since I have sat down to flesh out some thoughts regarding recent DVD releases and new films in the theaters, but I wanted to call attention to the films anyways:

I was hoping to give a full fledged review to Tim Burton's vision of "Alice in Wonderland," but I fell asleep during the film. I remember that it was colorful.  That may be review enough...

"Date Night" was really funny and even deeper than one might expect. It's a great ride, but the strength of the film squarely depends on your feeling about its leads (whom I really like). Otherwise, the story and comedic territory will feel mostly familiar.

"In The Loop" is probably really funny - but seeing as I don't know the ins and outs of politics, I didn't appreciate it or get it like I probably should have. Also, I normally can stomach verbal vulgarities, but some of it was pointlessly strong in this one. A rental for the curious is recommended.

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SHEER GLEE

Perhaps American Idol’s fading star is attributable to the musical polish of GLEE.   On this week’s episode, the poignant melodies of Burt Bacharach fueled some of the most memorable television I’ve seen in years.   The late Luther Vandross turned "A House is Not a Home" into a powerhouse, show stopping production.   But Glee added another layer of heartbreak when Kurt sang it as a tribute to Finn.  Now, the ‘chair’ is much more than a chair.  It is a symbol of the loss of a parent, the loss of innocence, the unrequited love of a male cheerleader for the class jock.   That’s a lotta drama packed into one scene and song and show.

On the other side of the Cheerios cheerleading squad, body image became a highly charged issue.  

With Sue Sylvester pressuring the team to lose ten pounds, Mercedes Jones faced an internal (and external) crisis.

Some Screen Time for your Screen Time

I may not be a cock-eyed optimist. But something about So You Think You Can Dance makes me feel a little better about the world. Who doesn't love a show full of fun dance numbers? It's part talent show, part eye candy, and part artistic expression: a reality show that isn't about celebrity or idiocy but rather about talent and athleticism; stamina and creativity.

I was so excited for the season to really start, because I am not a fan of the audition weeks' Parade of Freaks, and was ready for the top twenty to show their stuff.   Now, I am a seriously sleep-deprived mom, and prone to a bit of the curmudgeondry as of late. but the new set on the show was sending me through the roof. To the point where, fifteen minutes in, I was already badgering my husband with, "Do you see this set? Are you SEEING this? What is with this, Mark? Whaaaat?"
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Best TV of the 2000s

In 2020, will there be TV anymore? Who knows. But on the off chance that the death of television hasn’t been greatly exaggerated and is indeed imminent, we can at least celebrate the good twilight years that were the 2000s. In case TV fades into oblivion or merges with the Internet or something, this wasn’t such a bad decade to have ended on.

Here are my picks for the best TV shows of the decade:

1) Friday Night Lights (NBC, 2006-present): This show, based on a movie that was based on a book, became the best adapted television show of all time. More than a high school football show, FNL is beautiful rendered, stunningly mature look at Middle America. It’s close to perfect on almost every level and one of the great dramas of the contemporary network era.

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That Shoe Guy, Part 2

So, I've been doing some more thinking about that Shoe Guy, Blake Mycoskie.

He's the founder of TOMs shoes, where for every pair they sell, they give a pair away to children in need. (I seriously never get tired of seeing his AT&T commercial.) I've been thinking a lot about how I could put into practice this 1-to-1 ratio of giving.

And I ran into something pretty simple just the other day. I had gone shopping with a friend, and I came home with two pairs of shoes, a sweater, and two pairs of pants (we had gone to the big city of Portland to shop, so it was shopping with a purpose!). When I got home and started putting the items away, Blake the Shoe Guy popped into my mind.

And I knew what I could do.

As I put a new pair of shoes into my closet, I found a pair to give away to my local Goodwill store. I did the same with the pants, the sweater, and the other pair of shoes.

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What's Next? InnBeeSea?

I can't keep quiet about it any longer.

Earlier this month, the SciFi Channel officially changed its name to SyFy.

What the...?

According to Dave Howe, channel president, "We made a commitment to grow into a global lifestyle brand....The new name positions us as having our own attitude and personality, which gives us permission to do a broader range of shows."

So, they link together four letters that mean absolutely nothing and still pronounce it "SciFi"? Hard to think that's going to be that effiective in broadening out the market into a global lifestyle brand.

Before, under SciFi, the target market just looked like a bunch of geeks.

Now, the target market looks like a bunch of geeks who can't spell.

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THE WIRE: Small Screen, Big Picture

Looking for a TV series to dig into this summer? Check out the five seasons of THE WIRE on DVD. Several of my friends have been blow away by the depth of characters and compassion generated by this riveting series. I write about it in a new book, SMALL SCREEN, BIG PICTURE, edited by Diane Winston. It chronicles how religious impulses are lived out on shows like The SopranosLostDeadwood, and Battlestar Galactica. I deal with David Simon’s acclaimed series, The Wire. Here is a small excerpt from my chapter:

Once upon a time, I cared about the inner city. Back in the 1980s, I started an urban Young Life program in my hometown, Charlotte, North Carolina. Our team of volunteer leaders joined the efforts of Progressive Baptist Church. Each afternoon, Reverend Charles Mack opened his church’s doors to the teenagers from Dalton Village, the public housing project across the street. We offered tutoring, games, and occasional field trips. The teens wore out the carpet and broke a few chairs, but Reverend Mack considered that a small price to pay for offering a safe haven from the street corners.

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Hooray for Hollywood

So, I'm not watching American Idol...yet.

Don't get me wrong. I'm excited about my second year with AI. I've been looking forward to it for months!

Will we have another David vs.David-like showdown this season?

Which fan favorite will drive Simon absolutely over the edge?

Will the music mentors be younger than my grandparents?

Oh, yes. I'm excited!

But I simply can't do the auditions. I just can't. I know for a lot of people, that's their favorite part of the competition--seeing the good, the bad, and the ugly of American pop star wannabes. And there is a part of me that would love to see the first auditions of those who are going to make it far on the show.

But nope. Not gonna do it. A couple of years ago, I happened upon one of those audition shows, and who did I see but Leopard Man singing his heart out.

I was scarred for life.

So, I'll wait for Hollywood, thank you very much. I'm not sure what that says about me and my inability to not feel completely embarrassed for people I don't even know, but I'm not going to read too much into it.

I'm just going to play my David Cook album for now and bide my time. Hollywood is coming.

 

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