Fifty Fifty Challenge “Marches” On

For crying out loud! Where did the time go? One minute it’s here, right in front of me, like a red carpet rolled out for the Oscars, and I’m all gussied up getting ready to make the most of my time and ease on down the red—

And, the next minute it’s flown the coop!

Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill are rookie cops who go back to high school in "21 Jump Street."

I mean March has 31 days, not like it’s awkward sister, February, who most years has a meager 28 and, this year had a whopping 29. Close, but no cigar.

So you’d think, with 31 days, I can do plenty of damage on my Fifty Fifty list, right? I mean, think of all the movies I can watch! The books I can read! The sky’s the limit, no?

Alas, no. All that supposed time I had to read books and watch movies got hit by a train and left town.

In other words, I ran out of time and didn’t really make a dent in my Fifty Fifty challenge. I’m embarrassed to say that, in the month of March, I saw only four movies—that’s one a week!—and read just two books, one of which was less than 150 pages. Pathetic, I know. Tsk, tsk.

And yes, I know. I’ll never reach my goal at this rate.

So, laugh at me, if you will, but before you do, I submit for your entertainment, my paltry list:

The Movies:

21 Jump Street – I’m putting my rep on the line here and coming out and saying it: Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum make an awesome team and this is one hilarious film. It’s a laugh a minute, with unexpected moments and ridiculously funny ones, too. I loved it right through the credits. I can’t wait for the sequel (and you know there’s going to be a sequel). Look for great cameo from original cast member Johnny Depp. It is a classic scene, an homage to the series, which, by the way, I never saw. In other words, two thumbs up! If nothing else, see it because it co-stars Nick Offerman who plays Ron Swanson, the baddest curmudgeon you’ll ever meet, on my favorite sitcom, Parks and Recreation!

Friends with Kids – Great cast, nice, sweet, somewhat predictable, slow in spots, great cast (oh, did I already mention that it has a great cast?). This is a film by Jennifer Westfeldt (of Kissing Jessica Stein fame, which I never saw), who convinced her boyfriend, Mad Men’s Jon Hamm, to co-star in it and play a jerk, to boot. First of all, I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that The Jon Hamm is her boyfriend. A moment please while I take it in…

…Okay, anyway, as I was saying, this film stars Adam Scott, from Parks and Recreation, along with Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph (have you seen Miss Maya in Up All Night? Simply fabulous!), Edward Burns, and Megan Fox.  Wait for the DVD. You’ll enjoy it more that way.

The Muppet Movie: Fun film. I saw this with my kids (who are grown, as you no doubt know) and we all enjoyed it. Jason Segel wrote the screenplay and co-stars in it with Amy Adams, Rashida Jones (who also stars in Parks and Recreation), and a slew of Muppets. Songs could be better, but everything else, indeed, was. Charming film with lots of cameo appearances, everyone from Jack Black to Neil Patrick Harris.

The Old Curiosity Shop: Charles Dickens, need I say more? You’ll weep for Nell, you’ll despise Quilp and you’ll want to give Derek Jacobi as Nell’s grandfather, a good kick in the pants. This BBC production feels a bit like the condensed version of the book, but worth seeing because it’s a terrific yarn.

The Books:

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath: I love Sylvia Plath. I first read this book ages ago and the first line is still my hands-down, favorite, all time opening for a book:

“It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.”

Simple, to the point, and so evocative. Immediately draws you in.

Love Story by Erich Segal:  Another book that I read as a teen. Why did I love it so much back then? Who knows? I was a sap for romance. Why did this become a HUGE bestseller? Who knows? I wasn’t the only sap for romance, I guess.  In retrospect, as far as writing goes, I’ve read better. I can’t help but wonder, if this book were submitted to a publisher today, would it get published? Rather trite and simple, if you ask me.  This coming month, I plan to watch the movie with Ali McGraw and Ryan O’Neal. I’ll let you know if it’s any better.

And one more…

Corduroy by Don Freeman:

Okay, I didn’t read this book this month. But, I read it to my kids, over and over, when they were young. I’m sure you know its endearing story. Corduroy is a teddy bear who finds a home with a girl named Lisa, when she buys him with money she saved in her piggy bank.

Last week, I discovered that fellow blogger, Lisa Rosenberg, is the inspiration for the Lisa in the Corduroy stories! Her’s is an amazing tale, and I encourage you to find out more in her post, The Hunger Games, Corduroy and Me.

So, tell me, what movies or books did you enjoy last month?

The Facebook

Image representing Mark Zuckerberg as depicted...

Photo of Mark Zuckerberg, via CrunchBase

I finally got around to seeing “The Social Network,” and after two hours of being captivated by the film, all I can say is: That Mark Zuckerberg, he sure could have used a timeout from his parents. Or maybe just had his computer privileges taken away.

Or, at the very least, mom and dad could have given their son some sage advice. Like if you only have one friend in the world, and this friend lends you $19,000, don’t screw him over. Of course, someone should have told said friend, Eduardo, lending large amounts of money to your BFF, especially one as self-absorbed as Mark, has turned many a genuine friendship sour.

Now I know there’s some fictionalizing in this film in order to tell a better story. The movie was based on a book called The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, and I’m going to assume it was written from the perspective of Eduardo, who comes off in the movie looking like a victim and a saint. But for the sake of my blog, I’m going to process it as 100% real, as in, this is what really happened. To me, this movie is gospel and I’m sure every conversation happened exactly as it was written in the script, down to the very smart and insightful associate lawyer, played by Rashida Jones.

In the film, Rashida represents us, the audience, who like us, listens during the depositions to the fascinating story of the making of Facebook as it unfolds through a series of flashbacks. At the end of the film, Rashida speaks for us, when she says what we’ve been thinking all along: Mark Zuckerberg is not a nice guy. I am paraphrasing, so don’t take my words as gospel.

The lesson here is, if you’re a college student, especially one from Harvard, and you want to start up something new but you need financial backing from a friend, make sure you put it in writing. Detail what the expectations are from each partner. I’m talking a contract, not a gentlemen’s agreement. When it comes to making money, there are no gentlemen, only ruthless capitalists. Didn’t these boys see Gordon Gekko in “Wall Street?” Greed isn’t so good when it’s at the expense of your friends or, in this case, a friend who also happens to be a saint.

As for the twins, I don’t have much sympathy for them, handsome and athletic as they are. In my estimation, which I base on the movie as my sole source, they didn’t give Mark the idea of Facebook, or The Facebook, as it’s originally called. They only met with Mark once and exchanged a few emails. Plus, there idea wasn’t as grandiose. They were thinking small, so if you ask me, they were lucky to settle out of court and make millions in the process. Frankly, I think they were just jealous of Mark, the boy wonder.

So if Mark’s parents had intervened, they could have disciplined their son several times, like when he trashed the rental in California. His dad also could have advised Mark not to befriend a guy like Sean, the founder of Napster. Sean was trouble from day one and Saint Eduardo knew it. Plus, Mark’s mom could have made her son write a nice thank you note to his friend, for believing in him and for loaning him all that start-up money. While she was at it, she could have made her son clean up all those broken beer bottles on the kitchen floor. That was disgusting.

To think, if it weren’t for Mark’s girlfriend dumping him (and you have to give her some credit for dating him in the first place), Facebook might not be what it is today. Maybe it wouldn’t even exist. Powerful stuff and certainly, food for thought. True love for Zuckerberg was out of reach and I attribute this to one thing and one thing only: Mark lacked empathy—compassion for his fellow man or in this case, his girlfriend and his BFF.

Poor, rich billionaire lad. If you ask me, the only thing missing in this film, was for “Citizen Zuckerberg,” alone in his Facebook world, to utter the words, “Rosebud.” Cameras would then pan to his childhood sled. That would’ve been perfect.