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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Bring on the Adult Content

Well, after channel surfing tonight for, oh, about six hours the hubster turned on Spartacus. The one on Showtime, not the one on TCM. He said he's heard real good things about it, maybe we should take a look. We turned off an Errol Flynn movie for this, I expected it had better be good.

Well, it started on a very promising note, as the viewer guidelines contained pretty much every rating you don't want to see plastered on your program. Sex, Violence, Language, Adult Content. I like that one. Sex, dirty words, violence AND adult content? I'm SO in.

Then comes the statement that the sex, dirty words, violence and adult content are only there because this is a really accurate depiction of Ancient Rome, or Greece, or Thrace or Switzerland or someplace. Okay, even better. I'm a BIG fan of the Tudors, also full of sex and violence. Language, however, is more creative. It is, after all, England,

I expected to learn something. I like history. And I noticed that the guy who played Jonathan in "The Mummy" was walking around, wearing one of those short toga like things. I like that guy.

So, after an hour, here's what the accurate depiction of the times has taught me. Romans and Greeks spoke very good English and had English accents to go with it. They yelled "fuck." A lot. They fought. A lot- and for no apparent reason. With prop swords. They then stopped and threw cranberry juice on the camera lens. After this, they stopped again to have sex. A lot. In fact, the guy from "The Mummy" seems to have people that have sex FOR him. His wife was on one side of the room and he was on the other and they each had some sort of servant handling the foreplay. I'm guessing he's rich.

Spartacus went into the arena and hacked up about six guys. One of them (the one obviously made of rubber) had an arm cut off, then the other arm and both legs. By one guy with a prop sword. Before Spartacus cut the guys head off I was waiting for him to announce "It's only a flesh wound."

There seems to be a lot of plotting, a lot of drinking and a lot of gratuitous sex. And a LOT of slow motion shots of people drooling. I'm not sure what THAT'S all about. When someone get's hit in the head, he spits. Sort of like "Raging Bull" meets "Quo Vadis?", written by David Mamet and directed by Quentin Tarantino. At one point some army was trudging through the snow. In togas. I figure they went too far north and ended up in ancient San Moritz.

Except for the bare legs, the "fucks" the cranberry juice and the drool, it IS The Tudors. Complete with beheadings.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

It's all about geography, actually...

If you get out a map of the northwest section of Los Angeles county and place a ruler in a position between Universal City and the intersection of Olive and Alamada Avenues in Burbank (home of what's left of NBC studios and the location of Jay Leno's stage), then draw a straight line, that line will go smack through the location of my apartment. Perhaps this explains my fascination with the current late night wars.

In the last two weeks I've been reading a lot about the participants. I like to read. And I like to think. (Some day I hope to retire so I can sit on my ass and read, then think, but I digress.) In my reading, I came across a story about Conan O'Brien and Jeff Zucker, current President and CEO of NBC Universal. It seems both of these men were at Harvard at the same time. O'Brien was at the helm of the Harvard Lampoon, Zucker headed up the Harvard Crimson. O'Brien one day stole (with help, I imagine, or, considering Zucker's exhibited brain power lately maybe he didn't need help after all) the entire day's run of the Crimson. A Lampoon/Crimson prank, no more, no less. Zucker called the cops and tried to arrest O'Brien.

Ah HA! NOW it all fell into place for me. Zucker obviously has no sense of humor. The college incident explains not only Zucker's animosity for Conan O'Brien, it also explains his adulation of Leno. Because Leno isn't funny. At least, not now.

Leno used to be funny. Then he got a television gig. He's been getting more UNfunny as the years have worn on. He reminds me of Bob Hope as Hope approached the age of 100, still making Phyllis Diller jokes. Those weren't funny either. However, the guy was NINETY SEVEN YEARS OLD! I think we ALL cut him some slack.

Jay, let me tell you something, like a mother. Repeating the joke three times won't make it better. Jeez, even I know that. The only laughs your monologue is getting this week are on the jokes you stole from Jimmy Fallon. JIMMY FALLON is funnier than YOU are! Come ON, Jay! Or are you so consumed with yourself you don't bother to watch anyone else so you didn't actually hear Fallon do the Spaghetti-Ohs joke what? Almost 24 hours before you did?

You know what we all hear? That one of the reasons this is STILL being fought is that Conan O'Brien is negotiating a deal that will take care of his people. All the people that uprooted their spouses and their kids and their lives to follow him to Los Angeles. They FOLLOWED him. Across the damn country. And he knows who they are and he wants to make sure they're not cut loose in Los Angeles with no jobs and no income. Yeah, that's one reason. The other reason is that Leno is a dickhead.

Does anyone have O'Brien's email address, btw? I would like to shoot him a quick note and remind him to add the booker and the writer who were responsible for Jimmy Kimmel's appearance on 10@10 the other night, I'm pretty sure they're looking for work and hell, OWE them.

Now, here's what I propose. As I'm ideally located in the geographical center of this mess, Jay, Conan and you too Jeff. E-mail me for my address. I can arrange to be home any time that works for all three of you. I'll order espresso. I'll also provide the ruler.

In five minutes we can have this entire thing settled. Jay, if the numbers aren't looking good I promise I will add two inches.

Conan can go back to The Tonight Show.

And you, Jay, can retire undefeated as the biggest prick in Hollywood.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

An Open Letter to Jay Leno

Like you, or anyone else at NBC is actually going to read this. However, I'm hot under the collar and I'm going to indulge in some therapy.


Notice how I don't say "Dear Jay"?

You're not a "dear" anything at the moment.

What was it, SIX years ago? You SIGNED an agreement. You were gonna retire. You said so.

And then what happened? Gee, four years just flew by, didn't it? And now you're what, pushing 60 and your thinking "gee, who's gonna hire a 60 year old geezer with grey hair, I'll never get another job in this market and I'm too young for Social Security?"

So I'm guessing you go to your old bosses and whine like a little girl, right? "Gee, guys, I've been a good employee, I don't call in sick much and I'm usually on time, I want to keep my job." Well crap Jay, they already hired your replacement. So you decide to ask them to make you another job. With better hours.

Now, I'll give you this. Why in the HELL your boss said "okay" is beyond comprehension. Maybe because your company was dissolving in front of everyone's eyes and someone thought "Shit, why the hell not, nothing ELSE is working." Who knows?

So instead of acting with, oh, maybe TEN PERCENT of the class your predecessor showed when Helen Kushnick (remember her? I do) muscled you into Studio 1 you decided to cry.

Instead of maintaining any shred of dignity, leaving Burbank to, what is essentially a younger, hipper you while you did some stand up, spent some time with Mavis, wrote a book and developed a sit com you decided to act like a spoiled brat.

Conan outclassed you, hands down. Because you know what? That gauntlet he threw down on Tuesday in the form of a press release? He invoked "The Tonight Show." Not Conan, not Jay. And for anyone who thinks it's a ruse, do you remember Conan's old set? The one in New York? The one with the framed pictures of Jack Paar, Steve Allen, Johnny Carson and David Lettermen. This guy CARES about what he does, Jay. You don't.

Stop acting like a whiney six year old who didn't get a PS3 for his birthday. YOU made your decision. If you had any dignity at all, you would live with it. Your show is a flop and you're a brat. I've watched you for the last time.

Lest you think I'm not in your demographic anyway, Jay, I'm 55. And you need a nap.

I hope you develop a recurring dream prominently featuring The Masturbating Bear. Because that bear has WAY more class than you do right now.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Hey! That geezer is my uncle...

I have an uncle. I have more than one uncle, actually, I'm betting my two readers probably do as well. This, in and of itself, is hardly blog worthy. I have three living uncles, two of them are idiots. This probably isn't news either, the world if full of idiotic, possibly inbred uncles, aunts and cousins. Especially cousins. Why is that, anyway?

It is my non-idiot uncle that takes up much of my thoughts lately. He's been around forever. Conservative but fun. An aviation pioneer with a niece who hates to fly. He was married to my mother's sister. But he never drifted away after she died. He remarried but he was still so much a part of my family. This always puzzled me, as HE was the rich one. I could have understood it if we had the money but he seemed to like us anyway. I always attribute ulterior motives whenever possible, btw. Sometimes I have to really stretch to find them, but mark my words, I will.

He sold the home he had built, thus depriving us of the free swimming pool, and moved to an assisted living facility in another county about five years ago. Not for himself, for his wife. He had a lovely two bedroom apt on the grounds, she was in the "assisted living" section. I've never been quite sure what "assisted" living is. Living is pretty much an is you is or is you ain't? proposition. Yeah, yeah, semantics, I know.

Well, anyway, last October I was sitting in my jammies in my living room in what was basically the middle of the night. There was the morning news. Which starts at what, 2:30am now? Every time some local station bumps it news up a half an hour the other two stations bump theirs up an hour. The local morning news used to start at 7am. Then it was 6:30, 6: 5:30, 5, 4:30 (yes, seriously, FOUR THIRTY IN THE FREAKING MORNING). So I'm looking at the news and the anchor is doing a story on some poor old WWII vet who left his home in Orange County to run an errand and never came back. There's a picture. Nice looking old guy, white hair, wait a minute? What did he say the guy's name was?

There's nothing like seeing your relative's pictures on the news.

After many phone calls between myself and my cousin and much angst my missing uncle was found two days later at an Indian casino in the desert. We though it was pretty cool, immediately adapting the "all's well that end's well" outlook. My cousin was not quite as impressed. My formerly vibrant uncle was terminally ill, had no memory, didn't remember his own grandchildren, needs constant care, almost died on Christmas Eve...

Armed with this sad knowledge my father picked me up on Sunday and we drove down for our last visit with the doddering, drooling, dying old man.

I would venture to say I was closer to death with my father behind the wheel than my uncle is now. My father has developed a disturbing tendency to drive while reading. He was not wearing his hat. Old men who drive like that should have to wear hats, by law. "Dad! Give me the map, I'll look." "Well, look at that page, there." "Watch the damn road, I've got the map." "You're on the wrong page." "Jesus, stay in ONE lane, give me the damn map!" And my personal favorite "How far is Imperial Highway anyway?" "We missed it, Dad." "Missed it? We haven't passed the 605 yet!" "We passed it about 20 minutes ago, Dad." "We DID? It must have been closed for construction." No, it wasn't closed for costruction, Cal Trans got wind of the fact you're on the road and changed the signs.

We finally arrived, in some semblance of one piece, before noon. After wandering around for 20 minutes, with our jaunty "HELLO! MY name is..." tags pasted to our chests we finally located my missing uncle in the dining room. This was after we'd been told "he's in the hospital," "he moved back to his apartment" and finally "Who? Are you sure you have the right place?" He was pleased as could be to see us, knew precisely who we were, wasn't drooling and invited us to join him for lunch, asking the helper in the dining room to please add us to his ticket. It was a brunch. Salad bar, hot entrees, desserts. Nice spread. The dining room resembles the first class lounge on the Titanic. After hugs and such I head for the food. Corned beef hash. Scrambled eggs. Blintzes with raspberries. Potatoes, stuffing, gravy.

The food was fine but there was something not quite right. I figured it out the next day. It was the softest stuff I'd ever eaten. There was stuffing but no turkey. The blintzes were limp. For heaven's sake, I qualify for the senior special at Denny's and I still have all my own teeth, I'm betting at least 50% of these people do too. How about you actually toast that bread instead of using brown food coloring and setting it under the heat lamp?

But the company was delightful and no one was getting ill so I was pretty much okay with it. The visit was superb though. Seems that in the time he had left his apartment on that October Monday morning and turned up at Casino Morongo on Wednesday he'd been to Mexico. Unfortunately, he'd missed the news a few years ago about needing a passport to visit Mexico. After a hilarious retelling of his misadventure in Tijuana and how he finally got back across the border we adjourned to the patio. My cousin was NOT amused by this. She sternly told us this wasn't funny. Oh yes, it was. The guy's 92 for Gawd's sake, and he made it back in one piece and didn't lose much at the casino. Lighten UP! My boys, btw, thought the Mexican detour he made even MORE awesome than the siren call of tribal slot machines.

Okay, so he's NOT the picture of perfection. He's not exactly sure why he went to Mexico. He's not exactly sure how he got back. He thinks he still has his car keys. And his pilot's license. Apparently he now wears a sort of ankle tag which alerts the facility as to when he wanders out the door, which he does. Frequently. Well, sure, he's spent 92 years being able to leave the damn house whenever he felt like it. His health is better but it's definitely failing. And he had one HELL of a toot. Good for you, Uncle!

I hope I'm putting the pedal to the metal and heading for cheap tequila when I'M 92.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

New Year, New Reeboks

Well, after about 14 different drafts about the Rose Parade, the floats and the people who go pay 7 bucks a head to see the floats complete with their large bald spots (the floats, not the people, I'll buy damn near anything but I draw the line at paying 7 dollars to look at someone else's bald spot when I can look at my husband's bald spot or, indeed, the bald spots of every other male over the age of 24 in his family for free) in 80 degree heat because well, yeah, because it was 80 degrees and glued on flowers tend to fall off under those conditions I decided the moment had past, the parade is over and you've all seen the thing anyway.

As the first of the year has come and gone I decided that, along with my program of sensible eating and portion control I should, most likely, add some exercise. I thought that perhaps carrying around the membership card to the fitness center I only visit when I can't pay my gas bill and need a shower would be enough, you know, carrying around even MORE extra weight might burn calories and build muscle but no.

Like most good insomniacs I started thinking about this. In the first place, if carrying around extra weight will firm and tone you I should look like Vin Diesel by now. So, there I was at 3am watching a 30 minute "program" for this tube shaped thing that one holds with one's elbows out, rather like butterfly wings and then shakes up and down. This handy dandy new version of an Apache rain stick moves up and down, it appears to be on some sort of spring. One assumes the butterfly position, grabs the rain stick with both hands and starts shaking it. The stick moves like a piston. This stick is designed to firm ones flabby arms, strengthen one's flaccid shoulder muscles and, I think, relieve shin splints and promote nuclear disarmament. All this for 20 bucks! I found myself toying with this miracle tube. After all, I woke up on my 50th birthday to discover my upper arms, the same smooth, moderately firm ones I had gone to bed with the night before had turned into half filled water balloons. I attempted to wave hello to my neighbor and that thing became living proof that an object in motion does, indeed, tend to remain in motion. The under side of my upper arm finally stopped waving when it smacked me upside the head.

As intrigued as I am with the spring loaded rain stick though I realize that 20 bucks is a lot of money, what with the $49.95 addition for shipping. And I've learned to deal with the wizard sleeves my arms have become. I wear long sleeves in the hottest of summers and never raise my arms higher than my shoulder. So the bouncy stick has gone on the back burner.

My butt, however, is becoming a grave concern. The older I get, the lower it drops. If I buy my jeans a size too small it usually packs that sucker in to the point that it's forced back into something resembling its original position. That's if memory serves me right. The down side of this solution is the deep, red welt around what's left of my waist when I peel the too small jeans off and finally take something resembling a deep breath. I remembered all those commercials about the new shoes that turn everyday walking into a day at the gym. Just walk and you'll feel the burn. I thought, well, okay. I walk to work, I walk around the neighborhood and THIS is probably what I really need.

I couldn't remember what company made them. Or what they were called. So I went on line and typed into a Google search bar "those shoes that make your butt exercise." I was at the Sketchers website in about 1/5 of a second. I don't know what intrigues me most, the shoes themselves or the fact that Google knew what I wanted from that description. The shoes, btw, come in lovely colors and are all $110 dollars.

I'm wondering if I could possibly adapt the spring loaded rain stick to do the job.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Na Na Na Na, Hey, Hey, Good-Bye Christmas!

Well, except for the annual trudge through the mud in Pasadena to see the Rose Parade floats up close and personal it's all over. The Christmas ads have been replaced by the "you ate too much over Christmas and you now have a fat ass" ads. Did you ever notice, our New Year's resolutions are pretty much directly tied to what the Ad Council says they should be tied to? Turn on the TV folks, your resolutions are all out in front of you. You're going to lose some weight and quit smoking I imagine. Well, there are ads for all of this. They started in the middle of the Target Holiday campaign. Subtle, not so many of them at first but now that the stores have been gutted they're here with a vengeance. Go to the gym. Join Jenny Craig. OR Weight Watchers. Stop smoking. Have you seen the drug to help you stop smoking that contains no nicotine (that's good) and allows you to keep smoking while your taking it? Guess where the nicotine is coming from? Open an IRA before tax time. Oh, and cheer up.

I love the ads for prescription help the best, have you even listened to them? There's one for weight loss...take this pill and you'll lose the weight, it'll block 25% of the fat you've been absorbing. Ever wonder where that 25% goes? I mean, you eat it, the pill blocks it, what happens to it then? Does the pill stand in your intestine, like those guards in front of Buckingham Palace, silently guarding blocking the cheeseburger you just ingested? OR does it allow the first 75% of the cheeseburger in and then suicidally throw itself in front of the remaining quarter, all the while intoning "none shall pass"? And then, where does it go? It can't go into you, but you've eaten it. I can think of only two directions it can travel and neither one of them appeals to me. And consider the 75% of that cheeseburger the pill ISN'T going to block. How does one deal with that? Easy! The success rate of this pill is based on combining it with a program of exercise and sensible eating. In other words, I can switch to oatmeal from the Danish I'm currently eating, get up off my butt and take a walk instead of sitting here in front of the keyboard and lose 75% of my excess lard?

I'm good with that.

And we're all, I take it, clinically depressed. Not that I scoff at this, depression is a serious matter. I'm finding it hard to wrap my head around how MANY of us are clinically depressed though. Take me, for example. On Monday morning I'm going to wake up and say to myself "Oh CRAP! I have to go back to work today" instead of jumping out of bed and sticking my head out the window and singing along with the crows on the parkway. I will stay in bed until the last minute. I will then drag my sorry, tired ass out of bed and into a hot shower. I will not sing merrily in this shower, I will get shampoo in my eyes and curse the fine folks at Pantene for this. I will get out of said shower when the hot water starts to turn lukewarm and I will swear at the cheap landlord for not putting in a 60 gallon water heater. I will suck up some black coffee, find something clean and not too wrinkled to throw on and leave for the office at the last possible minute, where I will bitch about having to take down even MORE Christmas decorations, service the floor with coffee and cups and sugar and dig out the Mocha Chocolate Amaretto Rum Strawberry Green tea for everyone who has resolved to cut their caffeine intake for the New Year. I will, most likely, NOT put on a ruffled apron, shift my weight to the balls of my fat feet, lock my frame and pirouette down the halls with these offerings on a teak platter.

And this qualifies me as clinically depressed. IF I go to the doctor with my symptoms he will prescribe a pill for me that will make me happy. OF course the pill might make me swell up, give me headaches, cause nausea, give me a rash, cause my depression to worsen and give me thoughts of suicide or, in extreme cases, it'll just kill me outright. However, if I don't take the pill, I'm likely to find myself wearing clothing that matches my couch. And the FDA approved this thing.

You feel depressed? Of COURSE you do. It's winter, the weather sucks. The holidays weren't what you hoped they would be, don't lie, I know they weren't, they never are. You're afraid of getting Swine Flu. Your vacuum is broken, gas is around $3.00 a gallon, someone in your family is unemployed and Dick Cheney is telling you that the President is doing a lousy job preventing terrorists from attacking you. So, let's figure this out.

IF you're not living in the south, southwest or southeast, it's snowing where you are. It's cold and your heating bills are skyrocketing. You're not really happy about that. But at least your all in the same boat and YOU people weatherproof your houses in the fall, which is more than I can say about those of us in the south who have some really leaky roofs when the El Nino hits. The holidays sucked too, didn't they? Of course they did and of COURSE you're depressed about it. There's a dead tree in the living room, 'fess up. And you missed a Santa mug when you packed up all the holiday dishes and you'll be drinking coffee (or green tea) out of the Santa mug on the 4th of July. So don't sweat it. Remember, I'll be drinking from a reindeer mug all summer. Get a flu shot, spend 5 bucks on a new belt for the vacuum cleaner. You'll need it to get rid of all the dead pine needles on the floor after you drag the dead tree currently in the living room to the curb.

As for Dick Cheney? The guy spent a month after "the events of September 11, 2001" cowering in a bunker in Joe Biden's house. He then went out and tried to shoot a duck and shot a lawyer instead. There's not a drug known to man nor myth that's gonna fix THAT problem.