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Parks and Recreation: the evolution of sitcoms and humor

Parks and Recreation: A View at the Modern Day Sitcom

And the Magnitude of Television Humor

 

            Parks and Recreation is a mockumentary like sitcom that’s in its fifth season on NBC. Staring Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope, she leads the show as the enthusiastic and passionate bureaucrat who works in the parks department in the fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana. Knope and the rest of her team work hard to preserve the natural aspects of the town. Things mostly turn out for the best for the Parks Department, and the many different characters often show that hard work does pay off, despite the poor conditions and mindsets of the people surrounding them.

This season, a new character arises as enemy to the parks department. Councilman Jamm (Jon Glaser), a perfect symbol of selfish and corrupt government, plays dirty and does whatever he can to get his way. Unfortunately for Knope, Councilman Jamm’s eyes are focused on building a Paunch Burger in the same lot that is destined to be a city park. In the battle over who gets it, Knope and her team decide to host a black tie gala in order to raise money for the park. But just in the midst of setting things up, the Disaster Preparedness Department drags Knope away to test Pawnee’s readiness in case of a disaster. With Knope’s absence the team is tested on whether or not they can get it together in time for the big night.

In a separate plot, Andy Dwyer (Chris Pratt) is testing into the Pawnee Police Department. Despite his quirky doofness, Dwyer proves to be in his own way very bright, receiving 100% on the written exam. While his wife April Ludgate (Aubrey Plaza) nervously waits for him, Dwyer moves on to the personality portion of the exam. Unfortunately, things don’t seem to be going as well for him as they did in the first portion of the test.  As things start to come together for the gala, the red meat eating manly man Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) offers to take Knope’s place on Pawnee Today. As he advertises the gala as one of Pawnee’s big events, he also offers advice to the town’s dimwits who call in strange requests and questions.

While the rest of the team preps for the Gala, Knope is stuck pretending to fight off the Avian Flu alongside her best friend Ann Perkins (Rashida Jones), overly positive Chris Traeger (Rob Lowe) and Councilman Jamm. Knope soon learns that the extensive Disaster Preparedness drill was requested in by Councilman Jamm, in hope to delay the gala and its goal of raising $50,000.00 for the park. Despite Pawnee failing the drill, Knope is surprised to find that even with her absence, her team managed to do everything just in time. Congratulating her team and her sweet heart Benn Wyatt (Adam Scott), a romantic twist ends the episode as Knope and Wyatt dabble in the idea of getting married right then and there. Just as the two look ready to go for it, the episode halts the excitement with a To Be Continued.

To get some perspective on the history of sitcoms, I watched an episode of The Honeymooners and an episode of the original I Love Lucy show and analyzed both the content and purpose behind these shows. This episode of Parks and Recreations, like many others, highlights the wholehearted optimism that seems to be a continuing theme throughout each season. Very much like early sitcoms such as I Love Lucy and The Honeymooners, Parks and Recreations ends each episode with a positive message that relates to human relationships and common every day morals. Sitcom episodes of the mid 20th century jab at the issues that portray the faults of the human condition and in a way, sugar coat the problems that we all deal with – work competition, love, and the struggle behind power. Although the content has changed and adapted over time, the drive behind each episode remains the same in that it continues to outline the ways of social structure, depicting the way things should be.

            Parks and Recreations is definitely a show to bring a smile to your face. Although the humor may not cause you to laugh out loud, it’s the type of comedy that makes you feel good. The dialogue and body language of each character, big or small, is witty, clever, and well thought out. It’s the same humor you would find in casual conversations amongst your friends – the kind that makes you want to have a good day. Despite the problems that the characters face, for example in this episodes Disaster Preparedness obstacle, the problems are real life problems that with work, can be overcome. It allows for everyone watching to relate, and in a way, feel motivated to overcome his or her own obstacles.

There are many different shows on television these days, and many of them are supposed to be funny. That being said however, not that many end up following through with the act of making you laugh or even smile. What makes people laugh? Watching this show I came to the conclusion that many different things make people laugh. For some, the mere facial expression on Ron Swanson or Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari) face make people laugh uncontrollably. For others, the overdramatic reactions or interpretations of dealing with every day problems bring upon a slight chuckle.

Parks and Recreations is a great show. From the plot, to the characters, to the comforting scene’s in the towns city hall, this show makes you feel good, bringing you back to watch the new episodes every week.

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Amour Review

Amour

            As we continue down the long path of adulthood, many of us hope to find that special someone to grow old with – that person to start a family with, to retire with, to take your final breathes on Earth with. In the French film “Amour”, directed and written by Michael Haneke, Georges (played by Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (played by Emmanuelle Riva) are an elderly couple who are together, happily married.

However, when Anne is stricken by degrading health, the couples love for each other – and for life itself – is significantly tested. Anne’s health, which guided her through a life of teaching music and raising a family, is slowly turning into a malicious tyrant who wants reign over her mind, body, and spirit. Georges, who never leaves his dearly beloved’s side, is forced to watch and take care of Anne as she slowly wilts away.

The movie (a total duration of 127 minutes) is long, drawn out, and uncannily depressing as you patiently watch the inexorable decline of Anne as a teacher, mother, and wife. Each scene carries a Rembrandt’esque like feel; There are numerous long shots lit by windows allowing in no more than a faded ray of hope into their beautifully dark and aging apartment. Each scene leaves enough silence and solitude to call for thoughts of self-reflecting. There were many times in the movie where strong emotions of grief brought tears to my eyes as I thought about my mother and the people I love grow old and near death.

Emmanuelle Riva’s acting is so realistic that it’s somewhat disturbing. Her tragic downfall is carefully and intricately acted out. Riva is not over the top nor is she too humble, but she is loud in that her acting portrays what seems to be the real emotions of fully grasping onto the idea of dieing – shame, depression, defeat, anger.

Death anxiety is something that we humans have that not many (if any) other species have. Unlike most animals, which react to death in a fight or flight type manner, we humans know that we are going to die, we just don’t know when. Anne is in a situation that eventually all of us will go through, which in the long slow scenes of the movies, give us a chance to self reflect about our own death anxiety. Anne realizes the candle is burning at both ends and time is running out, and so does Georges.

In Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest young Cecily said, “I don’t like novels that end happily. They depress me so much.” Although “Amour” leaves you feeling just as depressed as young Cecily may get from happily ending novels, “Amour” does not do so under false pretensions. “Amour” does not leave you thinking all will end happily ever after, even in your final moments leading to death.  Instead, it slaps you with the harsh reality that many of us will eventually face.

Swedish House Mafia Review via Techibeats.com

Check out my review here

 

http://www.techibeats.com/2013/02/14/review-swedish-house-mafias-one-last-tour/

 

 

check out my review on DJ Baauer

http://www.techibeats.com/2013/02/11/we-love-baauer-review-at-1015-folsom/

 

hope you like it!

 

-scarlette

Reviewing the Reviewer

A Night Out to Eat with Food Critic Michael Bauer

            Try to imagine what the man looks like who casually says he has had 23 hamburgers in one day. I bet your imagining someone of hefty proportions with splattered mustard and ketchup dripping down the front of his shirt. But to much surprise the man I am speaking of is clean cut, well dressed, and surprisingly fit. Michael Bauer, one of San Francisco’s better-known food critics, is sitting across from me at Nopalito. He has fairly long blonde hair, a red, white and blue collard shirt on, which is complemented by a nice dark wool blazer. He is calm and collective, and very polite.

Myself and the rest of the people sitting around the table are enrolled in Professor Robertson’s Art’s Report and Review class at the University of San Francisco – and what better of a way to learn the art of critiquing then shadowing Michael Bauer do what he does best: eat.

As the waitress gently fills our petite glasses with water, conversation slowly picks up amongst the table. While hands were reaching for the small plates of spiced garbanzo beans placed in the middle of the table, discussion bout Nopalito and Nopa’s (sister restaurants) choice to use local and organic produce sparks interest across the table. However, after Bauer places an incredibly large order (allowing all 12 of us to sample almost everything on the menu) the conversation seemed to end as attention turned towards the man of the hour.

San Francisco has a very rich dining scene. Bauer explains how the history derives back to the gold rush era where there used to be houses of prostitution on almost every block. These houses used to provide free lunch for the men who would come around looking for some extra love – and granted, the houses that served the best lunch received much more business.

“Food has become entertainment…it has become a sport.” Bayer said as several dishes came to our table. As one student asked about any rituals Bauer has before dining out, another student asked how often he eats out a week. I decided to dig into the food that was sitting in front of me. The chicken was tender and smoky and was delicately covered in pickled onions and shredded sweet cabbage. It formed a delicious mound all aboard a crunchy tortilla. As I quickly inhaled the samples of various items from the menu, Bauer discussed what truly makes a great dish.

“The best food is a paradox with opposing forces,” Bauer said. “It’s all about balance.”

As the questions flooded in, so did the food. We had two different soups, shrimp and veggie quesadillas, lamb, chicken mole…there was so much food, to be quite honest, I somewhat lost track of which was which. I was so busy trying to see Bauer’s way of critiquing food that instead of reviewing the food that was in front of me, I was reviewing the reviewer. With so many food critics out there, I was adamant on learning the skills and techniques of one of the more successful ones.

“You have to know yourself,” Bauer said. “Separate yourself from anything and say exactly what you think.”

Despite Bauer’s advice, I found myself somewhat lost. I was expecting Bauer to describe the methods he used in evaluating each dish and give loud amounts of detail to each ingredient and flavors. The lack of made me think about what it takes to really be a great food critic. It was easy to say that the food was good, but it was describing what made the food good that was hard.

Bauer eats out every night, he explains,  “I don’t cook, I eat.”

Besides his experience in dining out, his background relates nothing to food. He studied mental health and never worked in the food industry prior to his 26 years of reviewing restaurants for various publications. So what is it? After sitting down and watching him do his thing, it came to me. Michael Bauer has a unique talent that allows him to truly appreciate and describe good food. And what makes him one of San Francisco’s best foot critics? Well like he said, “good talent rises to the top.”

Another Look // Electronic Dance Music, a rising new culture

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(One of San Francisco’s weekly EDM events, Electric Pop Rave, has a large following of young adults)

            I was 18 when I went to my first rave. That was a little under three years ago. No one knew what Trap was, they didn’t listen to Skrillex, and no one could have imagined that only a couple years later, electronic dance music and events would be taking over.

It was raining out, yet there we were, scantily clad in bright costumes and glitter, on our way to see some of the best DJs perform at San Francisco’s Cow Palace. When I got in to the venue, everyone was hot and sweaty; some people were giving each other massages, some were making out, some were trading bracelets. Everyone was dancing. Everyone was happy.

As I stood there and absorbed my surroundings, I realized how many different types of people went to raves. There were boys, girls, african americans, caucasians, latinos, Asians, gays, straights, goths, preps, bros, you name it.

As my night ended, I finally understood why all these people headed out to places in the middle of now where, barely dressed to rave and dance all night. Raving was an adventure. From all the friendly people I met to the feeling of the music flowing through myself and the people around me, it was an experience.   All these years I had thought raving was some weird underground trend that never fully died from the 1990s.

I was wrong.

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(Thousands of fans gather to see Avicii at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco)

            In the past few years, electronic dance music has bridged a major gap between raving and pop culture.  Slowly transforming into a part of mainstream pop culture, electronic dance music is becoming popular and exceedingly fast.

Music festivals such as Coachella and other events around the United States are announcing lineups with more EDM artists than before. Electronic dance music festivals such as Electric Daisy Carnival, an annual massive thrown by Insomniac Events, are selling out within hours of tickets going on sale.

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(Coachella Valley Music Festival featured a large number of EDM artists on this years lineup)

            Electric Daisy Carnival had over 300,000 attendees this past June, while in 2008, there were only 65,000 attendees, according to insomniac.com.

Hand in hand with the increase in EDM fans, there have  been an increase in aspiring DJs. There are probably just as many aspiring DJs as there are  waiters/actors in Hollywood, yet thousands of young boys and girls are taking their talent to the turntables, hoping to make a name for themselves.

Aspiring DJ Joey Guigliemo loves the feeling he gets when he produces a track or sees the reactions of fans when hearing a new song. Guigliemo, otherwise known as King Kesh, thinks the overall rave experience is what is making electronic dance music and culture more attractive.

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(Joey Guigliemo, aka King Kesh, practices on his turn tables at his home)

            “The idea of a rave is so that you can experience the music to its greatest ability,” Guigliemo said. “It like going to theatre, it allows you to get the full throttle feeling of the lights, loud bass thumping speakers, sweat, heat and the energy from everyone else around you.”

When I think back to when EDM first entered my life, people thought I was weird for putting on songs that sounded like robots having sex. People judged my friends and I for going to raves. The only people who didn’t seem to care , were the ravers themselves. They were open to anything and actively followed the motto PLUR (Peace Love Unity and Respect).

However, it’s not like that anymore.

Everyone is raving. The kids who used to poke fun are now dressing up and heading out to EDM events such HARD Day of the Dead or Beyond Wonderland. So here’s my question, what the hell happened? When did the haters stop hating and turn into PLUR’d out E tards?

(Yasanni Martinez listens to electronic dance music every day and loves attending massives such as EDC)

“The rave community wasn’t as mainstream and big as it is now.” Said Yasanni Martinez, a 20-year-old college student who attends various EDM shows throughout San Francisco and southern California. Martinez reflects on raving and EDM culture before it got popular.

“No one cares about the PLUR or the kandi or the whole idea of going to make friends and loving everyone, it’s not about that, its more about partying and listening to mainstream artists.” She said.

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(Avicii, one of EDM’s more popular artist, performs in a larger than life head at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium)

            However, I don’t like to think that EDM is growing because people realized that partying and electronic dance music sounds good together. Yes, there are a couple EDM artists that come to mind who have made electronic dance music more available and mainstream, but I don’t think it’s just that either.

People like what EDM has to offer. From across the country to around the globe, EDM is gaining fans world wide and growing into its very own industry. As modern technology grows and our world adapts, people want more from their music. No one just wants to hear their favorite song live, they want to see it, feel it, and share that experience with the people around them.

Music is powerful.

It brings people together. Music from all types of genres has proven that. Right now we are seeing the birth of a new genre that will change the course of music for the future. Despite it’s past, Electronic Dance Music  isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact, it’s taking the  music industry by the horns and riding it until the early hours of the morning.


Text and Photographs by Scarlette Tidy

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Electronic Dance Music Is Taking Over

(Datsik’s set at Coachella 2012)

In the past couple years raving, electronic artists and music have connected two major scenes in the music industry; Electronic Dance Music and pop music culture.   Raving and electronic music have both been around since the early 1990’s, but the once more underground scene has taken a large step into the spotlight of pop music culture. Artists such as Skrillex, Avicci, Calvin Harris, and countless others, have formed a strong relationship between electronic dance music and pop music culture.

When you think about raving, the highlights of the underground rave culture reflect on the PLUR lifestyle ( Peace Love Unity Respect), kandi (plastic beaded bracelets very common at raves), and overall openness to new things and different beliefs. The artists that drove the culture were the spinning DJ’s who kept EDM fans dancing early into the morning.

Jonathon Castro, CEO and Cinematographer of Jon Zombie Productions, attends multiple EDM events to film his own recap videos of shows. He has filmed at larger events such as Wobbleland to smaller weekly events like EPR around San Francisco.

(Wobbleland Recap: One of Jon Zombie’s More Popular Films)

“Several artists in the past 5 years have really brought electronic music out into the spotlight. Heavy hitters like David Guetta, Benny Benassi, Deadmau5, Swedish House Mafia and Avicci.,” said Castro. “These artists have remixed top chart hitting tracks that have really done well in the music markets and are played everywhere from commercials to department stores across America.”

From only a couple years ago, the EDM industry has expanded and grown, reaching out to new audiences and creating hundred of thousands of new fans across the world. Once smaller events are now selling out within hours of tickets going on sale. Electric Daisy Carnival, an annual EDM festival  had over 300,000 attendees this past June, while in 2008 there were only 65,000 attendees,  according to insomniac.com.

(Electric Daisy Carnival 2012)

“In the end I think what brings people to these events are their love for the music.” Said Castro.

The EDM industry has gained a large following, especially in a large number of aspiring DJs. The challenge to be the best and get your tracks noticed is just as dog eat dog as trying to form an acting career in Hollywood. However, despite the small chance of making it, thousands of young artists have thrown themselves into the industry headfirst. Those who make it quickly become leaders in the EDM culture.

Aspiring DJ Joey Guigliemo loves the feeling he gets when he produces a track or sees the reactions of fans when hearing a new song. Guigliemo, otherwise known as King Kesh, thinks the overall rave experience is what is making electronic dance music and culture more attractive.

(On The Rise DJ Duo Fista Cuffs)

“The idea of a rave is so that you can experience the music to its greatest ability,” Guigliemo said. “It like going to theatre, it allows you to get the full throttle feeling of the lights, loud bass thumping speakers, sweat, heat and the energy from everyone else around you.”

Although many agree that the energy in electronic dance music and its events has increased tremendously, some argue that the genre leap from underground to mainstream has its consequences.

“The rave community wasn’t as mainstream and big as it is now.” Said Yasanni Martinez, a 20-year-old college student who attends various EDM shows throughout San Francisco and southern California. Martinez reflects on raving and EDM culture before it got popular.

“No one cares about the PLUR or the kandi or the whole idea of going to make friends and loving everyone anymore, it’s not about that, its more about partying and listening to mainstream artists.” She said.

(Weekly EDM show EPR)

However, despite the changes and any critiques long time fans may have, EDM culture is still quickly growing. From across the country to across the world, electronic dance music shows and artists are becoming exceedingly popular. From the unique music to the atmosphere at such events, people are attracted to what EDM has to offer.

“I like the vibes,” said Martinez. “It’s not like any other music festival that you would go to.”

As the rave attitudes and good vibes become contagious, it can easily be said that electronic dance music is making a come back. This time, instead of remaining in the music industry as an underground counter culture, EDM is making a big comeback as a part of more mainstream pop culture.