Sunday, December 20, 2009

Now Comes the Really Hard Part

Fade out.
THE END!!! .....
Aaannnd: 158 pages ...

Yeah, it needs just a wee bit of trimming. But do I get a celebratory cigar and glass of wine now?

Friday, December 18, 2009

From Cynical to Sweet in Seven Seconds Flat

Ah, the internets. Ain't it great how it can mirror or change your always excitable moods.

One minute I'm on this new favorite site looking at vintage photos. [Including a geekily fascinating post about what a prop guy wrote on a Leave it to Beaver letter. More on this site another time.]

 Then I'm at a blog from one of that site's commenters, laughing at this snarky post. ["Just think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize that half of them are even stupider."]

Then I'm getting misty-eyed at all the youthful enthusiasm amongst the crazy Washington state high schoolers who did a Lip Dub challenge:

Thanks, Internet.

Friday, December 11, 2009

I Hate These End-of-Decade Lists But I’m Doing One Anyway

It doesn’t seem like we’re 10 years into the new century. Time flies when you’re having a sh**ty decade.

And after the big brouhaha over the new millennium (ah, remember our 2K worries, how quaint and innocent) this seems tres anticlimactic.

However, this is what writers do when they need something to do. A trendy little list. You know that. It’s either this or talking about some horrible “reality” stars.

So a Best Of Blog.
We all live in different cities, me and my many readers. Ahem.

So I won’t talk about The Local Detroit Entertainment Scene. (OK, just a shout-out to some “smaller” Detroit groups of various stripes, like Go Comedy! and Eisenhower Dance and Detroit Chamber Winds.)

Meh, I don’t feel like talking about movies. (See "Too Much Boy Stuff" below.)

I heard a Best Of list the other day. Half the bands I couldn’t hum anything if you put a gun to my favorite teddy’ bear’s head. The other 50 percent Ithink their music is crap.

But some runners up on the list, like Outkast's “Hey Ya"? - Now THAT I liked. What can I say - I’m hip. ***

And finally -

For the past few years longer-form series haven’t held much interest for me. Many recent critical favorites never sounded that appealing to me, and when I catch up with them on DVD or in syndie, that’s been confirmed. Why?

1. Too much Boys Stuff.
The Wire, Sopranos, Deadwood. Perhaps even Mad Men. They’re about The Guys first, with women as sometimes interesting accessories.

2. Too many shows with overly-bizarre premises. I definitely like whimsical (the 90s show Northern Exposure). But not over-the-top weird (Pushing Daisies).

3. So my dramas list would probably be short:

The West Wing (even though I never forgave Sorkin for treating Sports Night like Tiger Woods treated … fill in your own joke).

The Gilmore Girls. The first hourlong since Northern Exposure to pull me in with just the right mix of banter (in this case, mile-a-minute) and fully developed characters.

But wait. Was it really an hour-long comedy. That brings me to-

With a dearth of hour-longs to enchant me I’ve become more a sitcom girl in recent years.

But I miss seeing newly minted faves on other critics‘ lists. Too new, they say.

Bah. Here’s my thought: Put Parks & Rec and Better Off Ted on a Great Newbies with Potential for Long-Lasting Minor TV Immortality If Not Prematurely Canceled list.

And in the veteran cateogry put 30 Rock on the Oh God You Frustrate Me But I Still Love You list.

You get my point. Give me funny. Offbeat.
And some female characters that aren’t just The Wife.

*** I’m Hip

I dig, I’m in step,
When it was hip to be hep, I was
When it was hip to be hep, I was hep.
I don’t blow but I’m a fan
Look at me swing, ring a ding ding
I even call my girlfriend “Man,” I’m so hip.

I’m hip, I’m alive
I enjoy any joint where there’s jive.
I’m on top of every trend
Look at me go vodee odo
Bobby Darin knows my friend
I’m so hip.
---Dave Frischberg

Blossom Dearie Sings I'm Hip

Sunday, November 22, 2009

While I'm Sitting Here With a Stomach Virus I Might As Well Kvetch About SNL Again

SNL with host Joseph Gordon Levitt 11/21/09 (or 21/11/09 for you furriners)

So, I read comments on some sites where right-wingers are happy SNL is "finally" sticking it (so to speak) to Obama.

And I think - that's probably what's wrong with SNL. Back in the day conservatives didn't even watch those dirty hippies on SNL.

No wait, that's what's wrong - SNL doesn't HAVE any dirty hippies any more. Just a couple of post-something-something absurdist ironists and some kids who grew up watching other bad SNL seasons and dreadful sitcoms with enhanced laugh tracks and now think that's what humor is.

And the digital shorts? Again, I was thinking the other day about the little moves that SNL did way in the past. A wider variety of stuff, from the sick Mr. Bill to sweet little clips of people greeting relatives at a train station, set to "Homeward Bound." But Samberg's stuff, while sometimes clever, has all the same tone.

Or maybe I'm just grumpy because there was no Feylin last night.

(Oh, but props to "the kid from 3rd Rock" for his energy and especially the salute to "Singing in the Rain.")

Monday, November 2, 2009

Damn Yankees AKA Amy's Rules for What Team to Root For

On what may be the last day of baseball this season, I want to explain how you choose a team to root for if you otherwise have no affiliation or preferences. Or at least how I do it.

1. Location, Location, Location.
Is one of the teams from the Midwest/ North? (The Northeast or, in a pinch a cool Northwestern place like Seattle.) I will almost always root for them if they're playing the South or West. Even if the "northern team" is normally a rival of "my" team.

I'm not too fond of Ohio, so I have to force the Cleveland love. But if they're playing some team from Texas or Florida? No sweat. I'm not, repeat NOT still replaying the Civil War. But I'm a lifelong Northerner. That's how it rolls.

2. Is one team from what you perceive to be a cooler town - even if you've never been there? Cool does not necessarily have to be hip. Being from the Detroit area I will root for other RustBeltian towns - like Buffalo, for instance.

3. But being from a town with a downright cool rep doesn't hurt. (See Seattle above.)

4. BUT - New York teams? Eh.
Even if , like me, you love New York Citay the city. It's like being from Michigan but sometimes secretly laughing when the U of M loses. There's something about seeing some much-deserved humility being tossed at certain people.

Exception to Rule: In the fall of 2001 I rooted for the Yanks. I wanted that town to have something to cheer about. And besides, they were playing Arizona. (See Rule #1.)

5. Is there a particular player you like? An interest in Sid Crosby is how this Detroiter started following the Penguins.

6. Does a player from one team have ties to your area? Point in their team's favor.

7. What are their uniforms like? I'm from the thea-tah -- interesting costumes count.
Exhibit A:

To sum it up:
2009  World Series.
Two Northeastern teams, both nice uniforms. I've never been to Philadelphia (hope to some day). Don't know much about their players.
Meanwhile, Derek Jeter is from Michigan. And ARod used to boink Madonna, who's from Michigan.
But sheesh, it's the DAMN YANKEES!
So, in conclusion: GO PHILLIES!!!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

09 Fall TV Season & The Good Olde Days

As I wrote elsewhere, I'm either A) A fussy/ bitter old curmudgeon or B) A high-minded aesthete/ cognoscente/ other fancy-schmancy French words.

But I'm just not feeling the love for any new shows this fall 2009.

Some people are raving about “Modern Family.” I sampled a few minutes of it and went away "meh." I liked the Robert Sawyer book that "Flash Forward" is based on. But I wasn't super-enthused about the series pilot (which bears little resemblance to the novel anyway).

I saw Community's pilot during a special Facebook promotion weeks ago - also underwhelmed. (Although this week's preview did give me an LOL moment.)

Meanwhile, though, my affection for Amy Poehler, and now some of the other characters on Parks and Rec has made me stick with that show - despite the fact I'm not a fan of the Office-style of dry humor or of mockumentaries. (And I’m looking forward to 30R & Better Off Ted’s returns, natch.)

Speaking of P & R/ The Office, I can remember in a screenwriting class years ago being told flashbacks were a no-no. Then sitcoms did it for laughs and LOST did it for intensive backstory (or the occasional unintentional laugh?). And now mockumentaries AND flashbacks are the thing these days. But an old-fashioned part of my brain still says they’re both a lazy way of storytelling.

What I really have loved most in TV history were the hour-long hybrids like Moonlighting and Northern Exposure. (But thanks Sarah Palin for more recently ruining my vision of Alaska as a funky utopia.) What happened to those kind of shows? Oh yes, there’s still a lot of pretenders to that throne. But Castle? Desperate Housewives? Just lacking something for me.

I know - go write your own. And I certainly am working on my own projects. But it’s hard to come up with a sample script for a current series, hourlong, when you can’t quite jell with anything out there.

Waaah. Tiny violin. Shut up and write.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Yes, Someone Has Already Called It Saturday Night Dead

SNL is one of the longest relationships I've ever had. We've grown up and are growing, um, older, together.

I'm old enough to recall my frustration over not being able to get the show in certain Michigan towns when it first when on.

To remember how truly different it was, and to have nearly worshipped some of the first, vaunted cast.

To remember the night the last of the OC walked off the stage and out the door together. To have corresponded with one of the early writers. To have owned probably the first book ever written about it.

And on through the decades - to have stuck with it in the Doumanian year. (My reward: Having seen the Charles Rocket incident live. Oh what a handsome, troubled man he was.)

Through all the years that are a blur now, of You look mahvelouses and Dieters, Ed Grimleys and Mangos, all the various incarnations of Clintons and Bushes. And I remember strongly how much I disliked the smug Spade/Sandler years. And any of the "stars" whose main claim to fame seems to be wildly laughing at the own sketches: Fallon, Thompson, etc.

Like so many others, I refocused on the show during the '08 elections. Hulu, I'm about 100 of those hits for the Palin rap and Fey/Poehler cold opens.

But then SaturdayNight Live lost steam again the minute those two ladies were back out the door. But I let forth another burst of snarks when Michaela Watkins was fired. She just showed promise, true enough, but that was more than what half the curernt cast was actually delivering.

So SNL, I kvetch 'cos I care. And while I'm kvetching, I can't help also snarking about us snarkers. So to reprint what I said on Gawker (
here's the shorthand guide for everything we have to say (and say and say again) about SNL:

Standardized Responses for SNL Threads.
1. SNL is still on?
2. I might have to watch this SNL sometime.
3. SNL hasn't been funny since _____ (insert name) was president.
4. The Tina Fey era was the (Choose one:) Best/ Worst.
5. (Canadians/Brits/Aussies:) You Americans can't say Fuck on the telly?
6. (Me, other Oldes:) Jane Curtin/ Dan Aykroyd - now there was a Weekend Update.
7. And I remember when Charles Rocket said Fuck. I got on my Commodore computer and typed a letter about it.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Into the Deep End

Think of it. All those thousands of posts under dozens of screennames. Usenet and L-ists, message boards and forums, e-mails and other people's blogs and tweets. All the time surfing and posting for free when I used to be writing professionally, sometimes for money. (But hey, some markets were drying up anyway. Lots of markets.)

And now finally, this. A place of my own. (Not counting a couple of simple practice websites.)

And yet, still hesitant? Yes I am. No, it's not like I have a big following. Here or anywhere. It's not like they're clamoring for this. Yet. (Actually, I just like to use the word clamoring.)

So why so concerned over what few words I toss into the ether? Because of that word - Yet. With that smidgen of ego that remains, despite all the downtimes there have been, one elfin corner of my brain whispers, "You still could be famous, sometime, still might have people hunting down this 'early' work someday. And what will THEY think?"

(And well again, OK, my real "early work" was typewritten, I shit you not. Let me tell you about correction tape, kiddies. Or having to retype the whole goddamn page. And then that screws up the next one. And on and on.

THAT early work that resides still in boxes at my mother's home. [And how hard is it, five months after he's gone, to not call it my mom and dad's house.] Or more recent boxes in the other room, waiting for a move.)

At any rate, that thought - the fear not that I won't be read, but that I will, brings out the inner Editor, or maybe just the part of me that will always be the shy teenager/ young adult. The one who doesn't want to do anything because it might be wrong, it might not be Perfect, it might be - whatever. The one who was so consumed by these fears she flipped from full-time musician and part-time writer to vice-versa, thanks to Stage Fright.

Yep, I was self-conscious about even starting this damn little blog.

Then why all the babbling above? Because while I was heating up the eggroll and wondering/ worrying what great words to pronounce (Fourscore and seven years ago, It was the best of times and the worst of times, and In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth all having been taken already) I remembered for the millionth time the simple rule I've sometimes obeyed, more often ignored at my peril: Just effin' do it.

Stop thinking and start writing. Stop tuning and start playing. Stop the warmup and start the competition.

Stream of consciousness, grocery list, a letter to your high school crush that you'll never send. Whatever gets you going, just start writing.

And before I knew it, Future Reader who is researching the more obscure works of Amy Parrent - here was my first blog entry. Here.