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Dance of the Butterfly

Spoiler Alert: Content in this blog post is from the April 29, 2015 episode of The Goldbergs

Feeling like a dork is strangely normal, but only in the rare cases when it’s socially acceptable. In every other situation, the embarrassment is like freaking out in the middle of a high school cafeteria at lunch protesting the lack of chocolate pudding by smashing superfluous pears with slurred speech due to new temporary braces, all while enduring the tragic vision restrictions of pink eye by wearing giant rimmed glasses not considered cool in any decade.

This is Steve Urkel territory, which Erica experienced for the first time in years.

“I’m a butterfly! I’m just going through some stuff, OK?”

For Erica, her unlucky streak began when her unlucky brother Barry unknowingly spread his grotesque pink eye to his sister by laying face down on her pillow. This was after Erica and Lainey informed Barry his “dance moves” were just awkward moves in a small space. Therefore, the BFF’s forbid Barry from joining them on the regionally broadcast sensation, “Dance Party USA.” So, accordingly, Barry took it upon himself to learn real dance moves by asking his surprisingly nimble gym teacher to help him in a comically awkward midnight dance session.

End result: Barry’s dancing on TV with his girlfriend and Erica’s struggling to find her butterfly wings that’s totally not a metaphor for anything related to life and outer appearances.

(The Goldbergs Twitter)

(The Goldbergs Twitter)

The only other Goldberg more unlucky than Erica at this point was Adam. Blinded by the gloriously infinite all-you-can-eat popcorn shrimp Pops won as a bonus in Atlantic City, he was in sheer awe of Pops. Seemingly invincible, there was no end to Pops’ lucky streak of winning at anything gambling-related. Except, what if his bubble of wonderment was popped by his dad? Murray, always the straight-talker with no filter, informed his youngest son of the charade of Pops’ perceived perfection.

Awkward…especially after Adam over-estimated the lucky powers of Pops and nearly lost his entire childhood to his friend in a hilariously predictable game of lunchtime paper football at school. Super mom Beverly came to the rescue, except this was a job for the super grandfather, with or without his leather jacket.

Growing up with two older sisters who were in high school the same time I was in middle school (like the Goldbergs sibling trio), they seemed like they had the inside track on things. Even with all the chaos that comes with high school, there was a sense of control on their parts. And for the longest time, I had been (am) the goofy younger brother with a valuable obsession of insightful knowledge of movies, music and TV. They’ve basically informed me as much. But even when I was going through my awkward phase in middle school (as we all do), my sisters made sure I got to tag along on several occasions. This despite the “coolness” protocol that dictated otherwise.

It wasn’t just the specific activities we did together during this time in our lives, but more so that I was given a temporary visitors pass into their world for a little bit. They’re special memories. While I could list some specific events, it’s tough to beat Erica, Lainey and Barry all dancing and groovin’ together without bounds or concern over looking ridiculous on a popular regionally broadcast dance show.

And yes, “Dance Party USA” was a real thing back in the ’80s!

From Barry trying to a little bit less Barry in front of his admittedly too-good-for-him girlfriend Lainey to Pops passing down his grandfather’s pocket watch to Adam to Erica feeling a glimpse of sibling love to Mr. Meller sharing off some killer dance moves that his ex-wife is surely missing to Beverly losing a war (the card game kind), this episode showed there’s no luck needed when family and friends are involved.

The Goldbergs is simply all-you-can-get awesomeness.

Happy Monday!

This past Saturday night, I saw the Second City touring company with my improv group: A Group of Strangers. The 2-hour show (a mixture of sketch comedy and improvisation) was incredible. The scenes were clever and laugh-out-loud hilarious. Plus, the writing was superb. There was never any doubt that professionals were on stage. And they did impressive research on Columbus. There was no better evidence of this than a dinner meeting between a husband and wife who were die hard Ohio State fans (so, normal OSU fans) and their daughter’s new boyfriend: a fan of that Team Up North.

Quite frankly, it was all too real!

The improv was remarkably quick, smooth and funny when reacting to random suggestions from the audience and themselves. Doing improvisational comedy is immensely difficult. It requires extensive training and practice and takes a lot of hard work to make it look easy. There is no time for silence, breaking character or the word “no,” so it was a special sight to see masters of this craft at work.

Speaking of which, here a couple Second City alums (if only the public knew their comedic talents) who got together at their old training grounds a few years back…

Have a Happy Monday…Yes, And a Great Week!

Living in an Odd Van Down by the Comic Book Store in Malibu

Spoiler Alert: Information from last night’s CBS lineup (The Big Bang Theory, The Odd Couple & Two and a Half Men) and The Goldbergs are revealed below

From sunrise to sunset, yesterday was crazy.

First, battling a cold completely confused my mind, which resulted in a non-Goldbergs blog post. Have no fear though, that’s partly what today is for.

Erica wanted vehicular freedom from gas tank-obsessed Murray, so she manipulated Barry’s A-Team singing sweet spot that results in the best/worst van purchase of all-time. Meanwhile, Adam sought to rid himself of being known as “the nice guy.” This brought out Adam’s inner Don Rickles and Andrew Dice Clay, to the obvious anger from his family/comedic targets, to amplify his rep as the class clown. Adam’s journey to discovering his identity in middle school was an all too real portrayal. We try so hard to fit in and to be the person everybody else wants us to be. It’s a terribly awkward, embarrassing and frustrating moment in our lives.

In middle school, all we wanted and needed was for someone to be nice…

As for Erica and Barry becoming known as “van people” in their neighborhood (including their principal), all it took was delicious secret corn, the B-Team (for Barry) gas tank emptying and two genetically stubborn people conversing (Erica and Murray) to realize living in a van was not an ideal situation. Plus, the ’80s classic, “The Way It Is” by Bruce Hornsby & The Range helped significantly.

It’s a wonderful thing to have such a nice, funny family on television.

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Second, CBS owned last night’s sitcom battle. As in completely and entirely. The evening began with an emotional Big Bang Theory that finally dealt with the real life death of the wildly funny Carol Ann Susi/Mrs. Wolowitz. It coincided with the re-opening of Stuart’s comic book store with a sharper look, including some familiar furniture as pointed out by Howard. Plus, the phrase “let it go” got a genuinely welcomed resurgence back into our psyches thanks to Penny (inside joke for viewers of the episode).

Following the #1 sitcom on television was the premiere of CBS’s next great sitcom, The Odd Couple. Written as a modern revival to the ’70s comedy, it stars Matthew Perry (Oscar Madison) and Thomas Lennon (Felix Unger) as, well, an odd couple of roommates. For a pilot, it was fantastic! The writing and on-screen chemistry started slowly, as expected. But, by the end, the characters and writers revealed a promising (and hilarious) spark that will build into a roaring good fire of laughs. Like most great sitcoms, it will take a season or two to find its rhythm and pulse of its characters and story. Recall the necessary patience and development it took Seinfeld, Frasier, That ’70s Show and Friends to find its genius a few seasons in. The Odd Couple has an awesome cast and as they continue to fall into their respective roles more naturally as time goes on, this show will prove to be really special. Matthew Perry and Thomas Lennon have finally found their successful follow-up roles to their iconic television characters of yesteryear.

And then there were these, “men, men, men, manly men, who hoo who would show up?”

Following an unlikely 12-year run on CBS, Chuck Lorre’s raunchy, addictive and tumultuous sitcom came to an end last night. Having been at the taping for a couple scenes in the series finale two weeks ago today, which included Rose revealing Charlie was alive in the Malibu living room with Alan, Evelyn and Walden and Jake’s surprise return, it was still a tightly-held secret if Charlie Sheen would actually return. As curious viewers discovered, Charlie made a cameo as a Warner Bros. cartoon and, courtesy of a convincing stand-in from behind, in the must-see final scene. The finale had plenty of laughs, especially with funny pans and one-liners to studio cameras about the show and a series recap with guest officer Arnold  Schwarzenegger interviewing Alan and Walden as part of their pursuit to find the raging and “Silence of the Lambs-escapee” Charlie from Rose’s Sherman Oaks dungeon.

It was sad to see the show give its final curtain call, but it was time. Given the circumstances with Charlie Sheen and Angus T. Jones, Two and a Half Men could only continue for so long. One of the cool things about seeing a show taping live is learning inside information. In honor of the show’s success, and the fact it managed to be the longest running sitcom in television history, we learned that night that Warner Bros. would be renaming Stage 26, “The Two and a Half Men Stage.”

That’s winning.

As is this:

(CBS)

(CBS)

Speak Softly and Carry a Big Spray Can

Spoiler Alert: Content in this blog is from the February 11, 2015 episode of The Goldbergs

“I love you this much!”

What exactly does “this” mean? The natural vulnerability of being in love is a labyrinth for those who are married, but most especially for a young man in middle school. Adam Goldberg is a victim of his own massive heart, which gives way to happiness, excitement and intense paranoia. In Adam’s case, the “this much” debate had quickly catapulted its way into the stratosphere of the unknown with his increasingly popular girlfriend Dana after a charming high school gentlemen (revered by all) invited her to a class party at the water tower. Prince Charming also invited Dana’s little brother Adam. Ouch! To put it plainly, everybody seemed to be going through a growth spurt…except the most delicious boy in town (Beverly’s words).

Fortunately, just like pumping iron, the only way to go is up:

(The Goldbergs Twitter)

(The Goldbergs Twitter)

Disappointed is his lack of facial hair, Adam turned to Gentlemen’s Quarterly (GQ) for a follicle release method to speed up his inner Indiana Jones scruff. Following a thoroughly embarrassing family gathering in the bathroom with a Polaroid camera, which included his sister Erica’s lady’s razor, the mission was clear. The time had come for a big romantic gesture: Goldberg style.

Speaking of big gestures for love, none could compare to the one shown by lifelong Eagles fan Murray Goldberg. Barry being Barry, he broke down the “wall of no” of his dad and somehow managed to persuade him to watch his beloved Philadelphia Eagles face-off against those detestable Dallas Cowboys with Lainey’s dad. Little did they realize that there was some country twang in Jenkintown, PA…

So, how does one compete with the older, more evolved Prince Charming? How about a family engagement ring that comes with a complementary Beverly tracker? Showing up at the hallway locker gift-giving ceremony, the Goldbergs proved again to be the most awesomely awkward family ever. How did it end? Let’s just say there was a non-proposal proposal from Adam to his mother in front of all the cool kids. She took the ring back with an I do can do attitude and left her snuggle monster humiliated.

In a desperate attempt to prove his pre-grown up worth to Dana, the admirably ambitious Adam hopped on his bike and rode to the water tower party. In a daring effort, he climbed the tall water tower ladder with Dana’s (and everybody’s) attention keenly on him. He whipped a red spray can out and started to publicly declare his love for his girlfriend in front of Prince Charming and Co. Nearly finishing his epic quest, there was only one thing (well, one letter) that stood in Adam’s way. Recall that Dana has two “A’s”…

It was the perfect failure. It just had to happen that way.

Feeling out of place during that awkward middle school years is something I can absolutely relate to. Aside from school, my embarrassment at a lack of a Tom Selleck-like growth spurt was most clearly evident during summer track/Junior Olympics years. I was a high jumper (among other events) and I was by far the shortest leaper in my age group. Like Adam, it was like a boy versus men dynamic. There were likely plenty of spectators and parents who thought I was jumping in the wrong age group. Instead, I held my ground.

Well, not literally.

That belief that you are not tall enough or that you don’t fit in is brutal. It’s an eternal truth. However, when we’re with the right people and when we accept that it’s not about them, but actually ourselves, there’s no telling how high we can go!

I’m a high jumper, you had to know that pun was coming.

(BTW – How high did I go? How about a few national championships around the country)             

The power of love is an unmatched force, whether romantic or familial. Murray, after sort of admitting he likes Barry just a tiny bit more than his precious Eagles, helped his son understand (and vice-versa) what the real priorities in life are all about.

Barry and Lainey Lainey and Barry forever.

Plus, let’s not forget that Dana said she liked Adam and her new gimmicky Green Lantern ring just perfectly without grand gestures and that all she wanted to do was hang out and play video games together. I think that’s what we call Girlfriend Hall of Fame material.

I also think we’re all thankful that Beverly baked all of her children in her tummy.

The Goldbergs are America’s Family: Cacaw!