This week in Really Happy Stuff:
1. New York Times: 14 Actors Acting
The New York Times produced an online video series called “14 Actors Acting,” which features fourteen famous performers (James Franco, Natalie Portman, Tilda Swinton, and more) in one-minute short films. Paying homage to classic screen types (see Tilda Swinton’s tortured Joan of Arc), each short highlights one emotion/state of being in black and white. The performers are completely silent while string music by Owen Pallett provides a faint soundtrack. Critics have said the work is pretentious, but what’s better than a one-minute film in which James Franco seduces himself in a mirror? (You must be thinking, “A two-minute film in which James Franco seduces himself,” and you’re absolutely right.)
2. Christmas Episodes of “Community” and “Family Guy”
For some, December is the unhappiest of months. Loved ones uniting in the jovial holiday spirit simultaneously remind others that what was unfortunately is no more. In other words, just because it’s Christmas doesn’t mean there’s more green stuff in the bank place and Daddy’s coming home from war. And it’s the resulting raw emotion that made the Christmas episodes of “Community” and “Family Guy” classics because these shows are the kind of wacky comedies that just don’t hinge on said raw emotion. Therefore, when they do use it, it tugs even harder at the heartstrings. In “Community,” Abed and the gang (in fantastic stop-motion animation) travel to a mystical North Pole where they learn just how deeply Abed’s been hurt by the separation of his parents. And after families wake up to a presentless Christmas in Quahog, Brian and Stewie bring home a deteriorating Santa from the North Pole and go on national TV to spread the message, “If we all just consume a little less, the world will be a better place.” Ultimately, both shows highlighted how personal the holidays can be and the importance of focusing on what’s there in life instead of what’s missing.
3. iTunes Music Previews
Tuesdays are iTunes Day. (You might be thinking, “Ha. You still buy music? Just download it illegally.” But shut up. Yes I still buy music on iTunes, so don’t try to make me feel stupid for following the law.) New music is available on iTunes every Tuesday, so I’ve added “Check iTunes every Tuesday” to my weekly routine. And now they’re rewarding me for my persistence. If you click the little “play” button next to a song on iTunes, a thirty-second tease of the song typically plays. But tease, no longer! You now get a whole MINUTE AND THIRTY SECONDS of the song, which is, like, three times the amount of good tunes for your earholes. So thank you, Apple, thank you very much.