Friday, December 31, 2010

Ode to YouTube - and a Woman Named Valaida

I recall life pre-Net. I lived a goodly portion of my life without instant access to the wit and wisdom of Ashton Kutcher, or knowing how much blow (and blowing) Paris Hilton did last night.

For decades my life was rows and rows of stacks and stacks of books. Typewriters and whiteout correction tape. Waiting for the print edition of the Sunday New York Times to arrive in my small town at midweek.

33 and 1/3 vinyl.

That was my access to the world as a child and young adult.

What's Dial-up, Daddy?
Hell, it changes so fast. Even the sound of a modem (ssssshhhhh, wack-wack, doodle-doodle, eeehhhhhhhh) is ancient history to a mid-teen. Soon, discussing what a Blog is, or how you sometimes read it on a machine at a desk, will be lost to the text-only gen.

It's changing every second. A cousin to my first computer, an iMac, is at The Henry Ford Museum already. Down the road - in about 18 months - your i-This and your Bluetooth that, your Flip-corder and your 3D TV will seem so ancient. People will laugh at images of us *TYPING*. With our FINGERS!!!

The commercials made these 50-pound bastards seem like so much fun.
And yet, though I remember my life BC (before computers) I still can't believe some of the wonders I missed. Maybe it's because I remember that I still occassionally feel the magic of it.

Golly, How They Do That?
"Letters" that are transmitted more quickly than I can type one individual letter of the alphabet.

Becoming good friends with someone you've never met. Online friends versus those old-fashioned RL friends.

Bing Maps and Google Earth.

And You-freaking-Tube. Where was that all my life?

As a writer and musician, I know all too well the downside: That we can get so much for free that we once might've paid for. And yet, I can't help soaking up so much of it myself, rolling around in it like my dog used to roll around in a good pile of wet sod.

So I end 2010 with a couple more of my YouTube discoveries.

This smoking, mysterious voice calling to us from 80 years past. Valaida Snow* performing Ellington's Caravan. And"I Can't Give You Anything But Love" And St. Louis Blues.

And wow, what a fascinating, tragic life - A black female trumpet player and singer from the Jim Crow South, accused of bigamy when she married a handsome teenaged dancer 10 yrs. her junior. 

An ex-pat in the late 30s. Legends of her being driven around Paris in her orchid-colored Mercedes. 

A controversial missing period of her life: Was she confined to a Danish prison for drug use or actually thrown into a Nazi concentration camp?

Whatever the answer to that, it's said she returned to the U.S. broken, and had an early death around age 50, in the mid-fifties. 

This woman who recorded 78s would've never imagined the technology that would bring her voice and story to us. And what a story.


[Bio info from Encyclopedia of the Harmlem Renaissance]

Monday, December 6, 2010

Passive-Aggressive Alvin & Other Christmas Songs

Did you ever notice how many characters in Christmas songs seem deeply troubled? Require some type of professional help?

Rudolph needs rhinoplasty.

Alvin and his perpetual, petulant tardiness issues should be addressed by his guidance counselor.

And after mama has a fling with Santa Claus she could use a session with Dr. Phil, Dr. Laura or maybe even a legitimate therapist. She could get a two-for-one deal with that oversexed lady from “Santa, Baby.”

Then there’s the idiot on the radio telling me it’s the most wonderful time of the year. He obviously doesn’t have my long commute through the snow. I need a one-horse covered-up sleigh.

But the kings of trippiness are Felix Bernard and Richard B. Smith, who conspired by a fire back in the 30’s to write “Winter Wonderland.”

Gone away is the bluebird,
Here to stay is a new bird

‘kaaaaay. Dunno what that means, but we’ll let it slip.

In the meadow we can build a snowman,
Then pretend that he is Parson Brown
He'll say: Are you married?
We'll say: No man,
But you can do the job
When you're in town.

Now what the hell is that all about? When I was a kid I used to think they were singing Farmer Brown, not Parson Brown. But either way this makes no sense. When is Parson Brown going to be in town? And what does that old bastard care if they’re married or not? Oh wait, it’s not really him. It’s a snowman.

Far out, man.

And we haven’t even gotten to Grandma’s lawsuit against the reckless reindeer or the kind of migraine I’d get from twelve drummers drumming and eleven pipers piping while six geese pooped all over the Christmas tree.

Which Christmas characters do you think need an intervention? 

Annie Lennox makes "Winter Wonderland" almost tolerable

Monday, November 29, 2010

"Down-and-out Detroiters Dance"

You're stressed from the weekend. Stressed from going back to work. Or not having any work to go back to.

That can only mean one thing.

Time for a cha-cha break, baby. Because Hey, Daddy, it's just like what Steve Martin used to say about playing the banjo. You can't be sad listening/ dancing to cha-cha.

Not to mention some people find it a little sexy.

And it's that sass, that sex that drives my people in "International Latin," the play-turned TV show. They may be unemployed, hopelessly in love, running from their past, wanting a baby or dealing with daddy issues - but they let it all out on that dance floor:

INTERNATIONAL LATIN
excerpt from the television pilot
copr. 2010 Amy J. Parrent

TEASER
FROM BLACK:

The irresistible driving force of HOT LATIN POP MUSIC: BONGOS and CONGAS and TIMBALES, saucy tenor TRUMPETS, a clinking syncopated PIANO running wild up and down.

Glimpses of gyrating HIPS. Trim TUMMIES and tight BUTTS. A FLASH OF SHOULDERS, a SWIRL OF HAIR.

FOREPLAY ON THE DANCE FLOOR.

INT. A SMALL HOTEL BALLROOM, DETROIT - NIGHT
A BRIGHTLY LIGHTED DANCE SPACE. Surrounded by hazy dimness.

As if the sideline is just a dream and the golden dance floor the only reality.

And in that hot-white light SEVERAL PAIRS OF DANCERS peacock with all they’ve got. Strutting. Pulsating. Posing.

While JUDGES on the fringes eye them intently -- Like bow-tied and evening-gowned lions looking for the weakest gazelles to fell.

A SMALL AUDIENCE ON THE SIDELINES, alert to the ballroom bacchanalia before them.

AND THREE COMPETING COUPLES STAND OUT:

MICHAEL POWERS and LALANA CHASE PATEL. HIM: 18, your average suburban white boy dancing ballroom. HER: A divalicious 20-year-old, half South Asian-/half African-American.

FRANK TITAN and KAROLE MARKER. FRANK: Around 30. One big tight top and snug pair of pants, showing off a still-fit jock bod.

KAROLE: Early 30s. Less pizazz than the others. Dress a Saturday Night Fever reject. But works what she has. Perhaps a vague resemblance hints that they’re cousins.

SASHA SARKOV and NATALIA DUBANSKAYA (aka NATALIE HUNTER). Sparkliest of all, top of the game. Pelvises like Slinky toys.

NATALIE an elegant mid-30s. Legs up to here match a dress slit down to there. SASHA’S shirt opens even closer to the earth’s core. He’s slim, hanging on to late 20s, moody Slavic good looks.

They’ll speak with RUSSIAN INFLECTION, though her accent fluctuates.

Each couple winds their way around the floor. Marking their territory.

Frank, alpha-male-gone-wild, guides Karole too close for comfort to the Russians.

Sasha won’t back down. Two objects fighting to occupy the same space at the same time.

It’s Natalie who saves the day from a sequin-and-satin disaster. She whirls, and with a quick, sparkly flaunt, parades away, Sasha stalking after her.

In the front row ARNIE TYLER, a slim 70-year-old black man, smiles, whispers to his young seatmates, CAITLIN LAKE and BEN RYAN. The boy’s in tiny tails, the girl Ginger Rogers, Jr.

THE SONG ENDS. The dancers move to sidelines. Judges confer.


Photo: Slavik Kryklyvyy & Karina Smirnoff







Thursday, October 14, 2010

Live from 30 Rock It's 30 Rock Live

The 30 Rock Live episode was like finding two bosses or two teachers making out in a back room: Not what I’d expect and didn’t feel quite right.

Compare it to “Live from Lincoln Center,“ for instance. Something originally written for live performance - a stage production like “South Pacific” (which aired on PBS in August) - actually works better on live TV than a TV show that’s usually written/directed/performed/edited in a filmic format.

The look, the timing, everything seemed just that little bit askew tonight.

For instance, a couple lines that should’ve gotten bigger laughs got lost in the shuffle.

And a number of people on other blogs mentioned how much fun the cast seemed to be having. I thought almost all the regulars except Broadway vet Jane Krakowski looked nervous as hell at the start.

Cameraman must've been nervous too. Shaky handheld camera? Might want to rethink that. Oops, too late. It was live.

And did the show actually run short? Seemed they were stalling at the end.

Not to be all Debbie Downer -- here were a few of the fun, funny moments:

Well, yes, nice that Dratch was back and she and Tina fell into their old Second City/SNL/first-year 30R rhythm easily.

Jack sniffing Jenna’s alcohol breath was hilariously bizarre enough that I want to make it my Facebook picture.

Didn’t see the Julia Louis-Dreyfus stuff coming. Man, do all the successful SNLers eventually come back to the fold? (Except Jane Curtin.) Oh wait. This wasn't SNL.

(But speaking of that - I'd seen a picture of Jay Pharoah hanging around 30 Rock this week. Damn, I thought we were going to get him playing Tracy in flashback.)

The executed-criminal hand was dark/ sick - but it made me laugh anyway. Damn you Hamm.

So 30 Rock, it was like our own game of seven minutes in heaven. After today we’ll be glad we got it out of our system, and then move on.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Saturday Night (Live) Housecleaning

Saturday Night Live @ 36

 
Season debut. Oh yes, I knew Poehler would not disappoint. Although didn't she look just a wee bit nervous during the opening? Then imagine the butterfly garden other hosts‘ tummies must be when the clock moves from 11:29 to 11:30 p.m.

But seeing NBC advertising “Outsourced” while Amy Poehler is hosting? Kind of like seeing some douchebag brag about his skanky new wife when his former, fantastic wife is standing right there.


I loved the gay wedding at Ground Zero mosque bit ("20 percent discount for the military"). Or maybe I just loved the idea of how apoplectic some people would get at the real thing.

"The kids'll come for the boobs and stay for the books." Thanks for addressing the Sesame Street controversy. (Altho' what would Leslie Knope think of Amy saying nice things about punkass book jockeys?)

However, let’s not get too overjoyed. I think a lot of what was good in this episode was an Amy influence. I don't hold as much hope for episodes hosted by non-SNL veterans. Not while the show is still dominated by some of the cast who've been there too many moons.


Which brings me to this -- After the almost complete and utter disaster of the last 1.5 seasons, wouldn‘t a radical housecleaning have been a wonderful shock? Sure, they’ve garnered some publicity already with a stellar set of fall guest hosts. After Poehler Cranston, Lynch and Hamm are now on the menu.

But you can‘t keep nursing the show along with good guests being forced to do bad material, or incessant cameos from former favorite cast members. Who only remind us of wonderfulness past.


Dump a couple more old-timers and let the raw newbies take over right away. What’s with this acting like you need to slowly integrate them into the environment?

Once upon a time Aykroyd, Radner, Curtin, etc. not only went on the air without a chance to break in gradually, they were working without a template. They were creating the template. And it was brilliant.

Give the newbies major airtime. Get some fresh blood in the writers room. Find a way to keep the stale long-termers otherwise occupied. Maybe send ’em out to make some SNL movie. (And hey, you know the punch line to that thought.)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

I'm Too Sexy for Elmo

Katy Perry banned from Sesame Street

This video is "too sexy" for Sesame Street? Ah, the good old US of A. "Hey kid, stop staring at her cleavage and go play Grand Theft Auto."

Actually this is aimed at *pre-schoolers,* right? I think the only breasts that interest very little kids are the ones they nurse from.

Hell, in my universe Katy Perry could sing "I Kissed a Girl" for the whole half hour but there wouldn't be any violent video games.

I recently watched "No Country for Old Men" on a local over-the-air station at eight o' clock in the evening. Person after person being gunned down in glorious bloody full color.  No editing, from what I could tell. But if someone swears? Or there was a little frontal nudity (especially, Flying Spaghetti Monster forbid, male nudity) - yikes, NO, NO, NO! CUT IT!

OK, now that you've read this, here's a quick quiz on Acceptable Images in the United States. Answer yes or no to the following:

1.



and




2.


and





Answers: 1. Yes  2. No

How'd you do?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Other AmyP(oehler)

In honor of Amy Poehler (or as I call her, The OtherAmyP) hosting SNL this weekend, a few of my fave Poehler bits.





"I want 50 dollars worth of "circus tickets."




You're a tickety-tack tranny hot mess out-of-control super tranny from Transylvania who’se not apologizing for it.”









And I've probably posted it before, and I know I've said it before, but The Shooting of the Moose, and everything else about the Palin rap, will never not be funny. (Although, if you can track down the "I'm No Angel" sketch from the same, Josh Brolin, episode - equally as hilarious.)

FIERCE!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Do Birds Say, "That's for the Humans?"

On September 11, 2010, migrating birds, disoriented, it is said, by the two beams from the site of the World Trade Center, floated and swirled in the light.

Eerily beautiful. Sad for the birds. And heartwarming that some humans realize what happens to birds in cities, and try to help them.

I'm struck again by how strange it is that we share the same planet and yet we go about so unknowing of what other species are doing. Even the common animals we see all around us, in the cities.  And they too are living their own lives, attending to their own drives, and do not have a whit of knowledge of what humans are, or what humans concerns are.

If you've never seen the astonishing film Winged Migration, rent it - Now. Trailer.  Clips.

It's almost heartbreaking to see what birds go through to get to their summer and winter homes. (And I thought I-75 on a Friday night was bad.)

But, of course, some people have other ideas about The Birds.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Things I Need to See on TV This Year

  • "Outsourced" outsourced to Mars. OK, the show has an attractive-looking cast. And the film that suggested the TV series was sweet and mildly amusing.
  • But you know what's funny about the TV show? When the customer service guy from India tells someone he's in Detroit. Ha-ha. That's especially hi-larious to those of us living (and barely making a living) in Detroit. This show is perfect proof that the coked-up network Suits have no clue what's really happening in Flyover Country.
  • I really need Leslie Knope, Ron Effin' Swanson, MouseRat & "Shut up, Jerry" back on the teevee. ASAP. In the plum 9:30 spot the network maroons gave to "Outsourced."
  • I've heard no  buzz at all about it, but I had hopes "Raising Hope" would be good. Because for some reason I loved the "threw up on the baby"  bit.
  • "Wesley Snipes" and Liz Lemon getting together.  Curling up under the Snuggie, enjoying a cheesy blaster, watching a DVD of "Chums."  (Tina Fey, you managed to sink my good ship Jack& Liz.  So gimme this at least.)
  • Julianna Margulies' character getting together with Josh/Dan from "Sports Night"?
  • Or "Sports Night" coming back.
  • On a bill back-to-back with "Better Off Ted." Followed by "Moonlighting," "Gilmore Girls" and "Northern Exposure."
  • "Dancing With the Stars" with actual stars. Which means actors, musicians, athletes. Not someone whose claim to fame is being a dope on "reality" shows or the daughter of a dope in politics.
  • All reality TV disappearing. Except the ones I occasionally watch.
  • Two-and-a-Half Men getting outsourced to Uranus.
  • My name in the credits somewhere.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Shake It One Time For Me, Honey!

Miscellaneous YouTube Finds

Ostensibly this was all found through research for my scripts. Yeah, research, that's what it was.

1. There is nothing that is not fantastic and fun about this vintage vid of Jerry Lee Lewis killing it on the mid-60s Brit telly. His insanity, the arrangement, the audience. Check out the goofy, cute blonde guy to Jerry's right. (This'd be a great jive for my ballroom dancing script, "International Latin.") 


2. And why, why, why do I love Latin-style dancing? Do you still need an explanation?
Exhibit A (Karina & Max, Burn the Floor) (See about :50 seconds in.)

3. Among the hundreds of songs I've screened while planning the ballroom script, this reminder of  Peggy Lee's sizzling greatness on "Fever." 

(Ignore the visuals and just enjoy the performance. I like to imagine the choreography for my "imaginary friends" in the script.)

And yeah, yeah, I should write some longwinded (me, longwinded?) post about how as a former musician and longtime writer I worry that YouTube equals bad for creative people. That composers and musicians and writers and actors, etc., are shortchanged on compensation for their life's efforts.

But then I read comments from kids who've had their ears opened to Brahms and Benny Goodman, their eyes dazzled by the Nicholas Brothers and Fred Astaire, in part thanks sonic surfing on the Net - and well, I can't help be a little glad for it.

4. One more. For my feature film, "Do Not Delete," two 30-somethings time travel back to college days. Researching what we were listening to in the late 80s/ early 90s brought me to Bruce's Pink Cadillac. Lousy picture, great performance. (And speaking of longwinded - if you want to skip the Garden of Eden part, jump to around 6:20.)


Yep, not for the first time, or even the thousandth time, do I wonder what I did without the www.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Bette Midler is Still Divine

You Cannot Stay Depressed Watching Bette Midler Dressed as a Mermaid Singing Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy *

Back in the Mesozoic era, when I was a wee young teen, I saw Bette on the Carson show. The next day I was raving about her, and my friends didn’t know who she was.


That may have been the first time I knew I had to get out of Essexville, MI.


What a lovely woman, who has survived this crazy business and her personal ups and downs and remained gracious and entertaining.

I love that she managed to raise her beloved daughter out of the spotlight, and allowed her to develop her own interests. And her charity work to put more of another favorite thing of mine - trees :) - in NYC.

The reason I happened to meander farther into Bette territory on the YouTubes today? I’ve been listening to her fine interpretation of Mambo Italiano to get myself inspired while writing the International Latin script.

So hey, goombah, enjoy.

* BTW, my favorite exchange on the YouTube Boogie-Woogie comments:
"WTF? ... i have a version of this song with gene krupa. its way better."
"Was Gene Krupa wearing a Mermaid costume?"

EXACTLY!


Friday, July 9, 2010

Emmys: Get With the (Parks & Recreation) Program!

After all these years, after seeing how you so often ignored other programs with just that right combination of warm and weird, offbeat and endearing - Moonlighting and Northern Exposure and The Gilmore Girls - I should know better.

But oh, Emmy, so little love for Parks and Recreation?

Why is the best comedy not nominated for best comedy? Why is a show that was consistently funny and filled with heart, not getting one slot for writing? And what about Nick Offerman being snubbed for supporting (scene-stealing) actor?

Well, I'm speechless. So I'd like Ron to give the speech "honoring" the other shows that did get the nod.  Other shows: "It is true. That you have won this award."

At least we have Amy. As sweetly strong, slightly crazed Leslie. Who can't figure out why anyone would rather be Cleopatra than Eleanor Roosevelt. Leslie who insists "I'm Not Nervous" about this date. Leslie, who just happens to have Amy Poehler's gift for singing and rapping.

 
And somehow the jaunty little theme song snuck in for a nom too. So Emmy voters, perhaps next year, you'll watch the show all the way through. Not just the opening credits. And then we can all sing Kum Bay Yah together. Or maybe Jabba the Hutt, Jabba the Hutt.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Movie Lines I Wish I'd Written

“Audiences don’t know that somebody sits down and writes a picture. They think the actors make it up as they go along.” - Sunset Boulevard. Spoken by William Holden. Written by Charles Brackett & Billy Wilder.


Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
You complete me.
Say hello to my little friend.
I just want to say one word to you…Plastics.
Tell me everything that's happened since the beginning.
Well, first the earth cooled. Then the dinosaurs came …

What we've got here...is a failure to communicate.
You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me?

Gentlemen, you can't fight in here. This is the War Room!

They’re here.
I’ll be back.
I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.
We'll always have Paris.

Here’s Johnny.
As if. Okay, so he is kind of a Baldwin.
I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody.
There's no crying in baseball!

Houston, we have a problem.
It's not a tumah!
We’re gonna need a bigger boat.
Fasten your seat belts - it's going to be a bumpy night.

I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.
I love the smell of napalm in the morning.
I remember every detail. The Germans wore gray, you wore blue.
I'm not bad; I'm just drawn that way.

She's my daughter! She's my sister! She's my daughter! My sister, my daughter. She's my sister and my daughter.
My daughter is in pain...Give my daughter the shot!


Show Me The Money
Forget it Jake. It’s Chinatown.
This is another fine mess you’ve gotten me into.
That’s the way it crumbles, cookie-wise.

All right, Mister DeMille, I’m ready for my closeup.
Here’s looking at you kid.


You had me at hello.


I am serious. And don’t call me Shirley.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

I Was Always the Glee Generation

And so, it's Christmas for Theatre Geeks - Tony Awards day. In its honor, the New York Times tells me that the Youths of the Country are embracing their inner theatre nerds. So much so, that you're no longer a nerd if you love music theatre. It's hip to be geek. Or Gleek. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/13/fashion/13Cultural.html

The author, who seems to be a decade younger than me(!), reflects on the differences between his teen days and now: "Whereas the high-schoolers of my era wouldn’t admit to liking show tunes for fear of seeming gay, those of today wouldn’t even necessarily conflate the two things, and besides, what’s wrong with being gay?"

Ah, whatever Gen we're on now, bless you. Bless you, kids, for your enlightenment. Although, to tell you the truth, in the Bad Old Days there was almost something cool (that's sick to you) about being so out of it you were almost in again.

Anyway, back to big-time theatre. They're reviving "Funny Girl." No, they haven't cloned La Streisand. They're actually going to get someone else to play the lead. And then they're going to find someone who sings "Respect" better than Aretha. And ... well, fill in your own impossible to beat standard.

Still, just the talk of that 60s classic musical got me in the mood to watch an iconic film musical moment. Funny Girl's "Don't Rain on My Parade" aka The Statue of Liberty scene.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6E2Mooz_LA

And although there is only one Babs, I guess Lea Michele's version of the song itself ain't bad.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2FQ40_fVDk

Now, I have my problems with aspects of Glee, in general. (Starting with my first question: Is it hyperbolic satire with broadly drawn caricatures or mushy sitcom - with broadly drawn caricatures?) But I do appreciate that it's introducing some great music - not only Broadway, but classic R & B and rock - to those Youths I mentioned above.

And listening to/ watching that "Funny Girl" scene got me thinking in general about something I don't say often - it is the ARTS of America that make me most proud to be from this country. The U.S., in so many ways one hot mess of a place, has given the world Broadway. And Jazz. And R & B. And on and on. And I'm glad I was born gleek enough to appreciate, to revel in, so much of it:

The Gershwins. Stevie Wonder and Stephen Sondheim. Streisand and Aretha. Holland Dozier Holland. Benny Goodman. Bruce Springsteen. Christina Aguilera. Gene Kelly. Fred Astaire. And that's just the first dozen or so names off the top of my head.

So, yes, I'll be watching the Tonys. Every musical isn't a gem. Every musical isn't my cup of tea. But it's still pretty cool that we've got so much, I can afford to be this picky. That I'm from MusicNerdNation.




Friday, May 28, 2010

In My Lousy Flash Forward I Saw the Crappy LOST Finale

I’m amazed at the number of fans LOST had until the bitter end. Far fewer people seemed to be satisfied with the one-season wonder, Flash Forward. (Based on my highly unscientific occasional skimming of Television Without Pity.)

But while the former show may have had the edge in some areas - a few individual characters more fully fleshed out in writing or acting - when it came down to it, both were muddled messes.

 The main problem? The creators of these shows, and others of the ilk (e.g., The X-Files), shows of the multi-character, sci-fi mystery, Big Myth genre - didn’t seem to know their final destination back when they started the journey.

 So instead of a clearly defined path, with a few interesting scenic side-trips, we got one of those road-trips from hell, where daddy refuses to look at a map, and mom has a permanent migraine and Billy is dangling Jenny’s pet hamster out the window. (Play along with me, my metaphorical family took their bleepity-bleep hamster on their vacation, OK?)

These shows are more infuriatingly coy and self-satisfied than every reality show diva on the planet combined. They provided fewer straightforward answers than a Family-Values senator or preacher who’s just been caught wearing diapers with a hooker or taking a rent boy to Europe.

Oh, they tease us with their shiny new toy of a premise. Only for us to find a few weeks or years after we started playing with the toy that it was filled with Grade A Chinese lead.

I stopped watching Lost regularly sometime while they were all still on the island (or dead, or whatever they were) the first time. Before some of them left, or came back, or flew sideways, or whatever. Then this year I got into the habit of flipping over to it in between other shows, keeping it on for background noise while I cyber-surfed.

But I didn’t really know what was going on. Which means I could’ve been one of the writers.

Ba-dum-bump.

And then there’s Flash Forward. I’ve read the novel by Robert Sawyer, the Canadian writer of science-heavy science fiction.

It’s a hell of a premise, a great twist on the sci-fi theme that’s been a favorite fantasy of mine since childhood - time travel.

In fact, my recent movie script, Do Not Delete, is a time-travel theme. I’ve also dabbled with other time travel plots. And read a zillion short-stories and novels and seen numerous movies and TV shows utilizing the topic.

So Flash Forward, the TV show, naturally grabbed my attention. But oh, what a hot mess it was from Episode One, FADE IN. Right through the Calvalcade of Cliches that was the abrupt and unsatisfying season/ series finale.

Take that last episode. S’il vous plait. Bitte. Please.

I don’t have the faintest clue what was supposedly going on with the building blowing up, or why the Bad Guys With Guns were also there. But everything in those scenes was so clich├ęd it looked like a parody:

  • The “ruthless” gunmen jittery, jumping the trigger at just the sound of a cell phone ringing.
  • Ralph‘sLessTalentedBrother hiding behind a shuttered closet door and not one of the Bad Guys glancing that way as they entered the room.
  • And Die-Hard, the Dork Version, with Our Hero running in shampoo-commercial Slo-Mo toward the window as the building explodes.


Joseph Fiennes spent most of Flash Forward 
searching for a consistent American accent.

Plus, why was the threat to the building a surprise. Didn't all of the law enforcement people (including the extras) see themselves there in their FFs. Or not see themselves, in the case of the ones who were mowed down just before 10 p.m.


And then there’s the silly Oh she wasn’t being drowned, she was being saved. Oh, she wasn’t dead, just has a really thready pulse. Oh, oh, oh …

The only characters I found the least bit interesting were Janis, and to a lesser extent, Lloyd. (I know, I know, but I like his English accent and puppy-dog eyes.) Oh, and the savant, whazizname.

I did have one happy association when I watched a few of the last episodes, though. Every time the show mentioned April 29, I remembered my fun trip to an ice show in Canada on that day this year.

Until I realized, if there’d really been a (second) worldwide blackout on that day, I might’ve driven off the Ambassador Bridge.

Ew, I’ll probably dream that now.

And my five-second dream will be more interesting than Lost Seasons 2-6 and Flash Forward, Season Everything, put together.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

This is How Olympic Athletes Think

OK, so this is how Olympic-caliber athletes think. It’s a warmup before a Canadian Stars on Ice show. Vancouver bronze medalist Joannie Rochette, sorta done practicing, or maybe just taking a break, sits near the ice. Two other Olympic-eligible skaters land triple jumps, in sync, at opposite ends of rink. JoRo gets up, goes back on the ice, lands a triple-triple jump, sits back down. Just like that. As if to say, hello, I'm a frickin' Olympic medalist. I’ll see your solo triple and raise you a triple.

That is how Olympic athletes think. Even at an ice show practice.

Sneaking a Peek at Athletes at Their Peak
Life is mainly regular old stuff, stuff you have to do, stuff you really don't want to do, stuff you just do. Then every once in awhile, you get a treat. Like for me, it's spending warm nights in cool rinks, watching people who can race around on ice skates like Horowitz used to race around the keyboard. It's watching people who are my stars on ice, in places like this arena, from center ice 10 rows up.

Good thing I saw the warmup, 'cos my show seat was way over at rink's end, up top. The kind of low-rent seat that can distance you from the performances. (Of course, I’m someone who’s been spoiled rotten, able to watch top skaters close up at these kinds of practies many other times. How you gonna keep 'em up in the peanut gallery once they've sat downtown?)

The Main Show
Among the actual show highlights for me at this 2010 edition of Stars on Ice, Canada, were Rochette's “Summertime” followed by Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir's adaptation of the Mahler program that won them World and Olympic gold this year. Just magnificent performances by skaters at the peak of the power.


Another fave - the “Intermission” program, skated by three of the guys and Ms. Rochette. This cast meshes well. If they secretly hate each others’ guts, they’re faking friendship superbly.


Of Course, I'd Be Charmed if They Just Sat There Texting
Informal practices are always fun to watch. Saw lots of cute stuff, like when Kurt Browning was practicing footwork, and Rochette started to playfully imitate him. I just wanted to pick them both up, put them in my purse and have them with me to do charming things like that all day. (BTW Dear AllSkatersEverywhere: Mr. Browning is a good person to try to imitate footwork-wise.)


It took me awhile to realize some skaters were running through parts of programs, not skating to random warmup songs. Duh. (I had been secretly giving props to former world champ Jeff Buttle for what I thought was a brilliant ad-libbing to Stones music.)


Illegal Geese
Later in the practice Tessa and Scott - that's Virtue and Moir to you non-obssessed - practiced their signature move, the Goose, with a fantastic (but deemed “illegal” for competition) dismount.  And some of their elaborate lifts. (TBH, who’d just put her eyes back in her head from the eligible skaters’ JumpFest, was all *eek* again.)

And then the hubby/wife dance team of Dubreil and Lauzon ran through a bit of their “newspaper” program, all slinky and everything, as if to say, “No one even has to ask US if we’re sleeping together.”




Javier Fernandez - Will He Reign From Spain or Mainly Stay Kind of Plain?
Of course, being an obsessed fan also mean the joy of discovering new talent. (Once upon a time JoRo and V/M were my new little finds.)


Here's another one who might make a big splash (by not splatting) someday. A kid from that hotbed of ice sports, Spain. Javier Fernandez. I don’t know when he got on my radar within the past several months, but he did.
I was looking at this drunken pirate’s website/ wiki entries (his long program was a wacky routine to Pirates of the Caribbean). Not a lot of detail yet. Because again - Spain?!? (A few weeks ago I was reading some condolences posted at Joannie Rochette’s website. It popped out at me that one of them began, “I’m from Spain - ice skating isn’t very big here …” It’d be interesting to see if that would change much if this young man progresses to a high level.)


It’s just always fascinating how people get into something, no matter what their circumstances, as if they’re just destined to do it.


And you know who that kind of person is? The kind of person who gets up in the middle of an ice show practice and throws down a damn hard old jump combo. Just for the hell of it.