Archive for March, 2008

S.N.L. D.N.R.

Posted in Rants & Rages with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 19, 2008 by tigereye

Sometimes you have to hand out Tough Love, folks.

I was five years old when Saturday Night Live first came onto the scene. Five years old. That show has outlasted all my cars, most of my friendships, my virginity, several beloved pets, and at least two school buildings. It was terrific at its inception, wretched for a couple of post-Eddie-Murphy years in the early ’80s, had the cast version of either an intervention or a quadruple bypass, and came out on the other side as good as ever. Then slowly that cast, born during the Reagan years, was replaced member by member, like a car having one engine component after another fall out onto the garage floor. And to continue that analogy, the mechanic picked it up, looked at what it used to be, and thought, “I got another’n of these in the shop somewhere,” and replaced it with a used but at least still-working part. Then gradually the whole car replaced itself with parts that weren’t as serviceable as the originals, and the cycle went on, and on, and on…

You see where I’m going here, right?

I can’t even watch SNL, as it’s now known — and it doesn’t deserve to have even that much similarity to the show it once was. It hurts. It hurts me in the brain and the funny and the writer, all at the same time, so I can only imagine the toll it’s taking on its last three remaining talented cast members, Amy Poehler, Darrell Hammond, and Kenan Thompson. They’re whirling in such a vortex of suckdom created by their fellow, oh, hell, just say actors whether it’s true or not, that I’m impressed they keep showing up. If I were Poehler or Hammond or Thompson, the urge to just sit backstage in my dressing room and swill Southern Comfort straight out of the bottle would be impossible to withstand by now. I think it’s why Darrell Hammond only shows up in one skit a week these days.

SNL is in a Green Eggs and Ham state of misery: they are not funny on a stage, they are not funny with Ellen Page, they wouldn’t be funny with Alan Ladd, or with Fat Boy From “Superbad.” (I just came up with those rhymes off the top of my head and they’re funnier than anything SNL has done in weeks.) IT JUST BLOWS GOATS, PEOPLE. It’s painful to watch. John keeps trying to make it through the show out of stubborn loyalty and the hots for Amy Poehler, and I cringe for him, week after wretched awful unfunny week. You’d think the writers’ strike would give them time to regroup, even if they weren’t allowed to fire every talentless schmuck in their repertoire, from smirking frat-boy dolt Andy Samberg or whatever the hell his name is, to Fred Something, whose only funny bit EVER was wearing a dress and pretending to be Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, to Kristen No One Knows Your Name and You’re Not Funny, who plays that sickening character that’s a total ripoff of John Lovitz’s Annoying Man, only less funny and oddly enough, less annoying. There’s some poor new girl in the cast who resembles Julia Sweeney. So far she’s not funny either, although it may or may not be her fault.

Who writes this crap they’re passing off to us as humor? Look, I don’t live in New York and I have no current income, and this stupid piece I’m writing at this moment has already made me smile a couple of times. That’s more than SNL has accomplished. And it’s not that they’re hurting for material — the governor of New York gets caught banging an expensive mannequin, the upcoming election is a gigantic mood swing in three acts, everyone who’s ever touched a baseball is caught pants-down and needle-in-thigh with steroids, yet they can’t capitalize on it? The Taliban allows more humor than SNL has delivered. They’ve had two presidential candidates and an Oscar nominee turn up this season, and that’s just on the shows I’ve seen bits and pieces of, but they haul Fred Armi-notfunny out to wreck the news with one of his failed recurring characters. The news is the only bright spot on the show, partly because of poor workhorse Amy Poehler and partly because all the would-be musical guests are taking one horrified look at the train wreck the show’s become and suddenly developing laryngitis. Hell, I bet they couldn’t book Britney Spears — and there’s another reason the show should be at least bearable for the first 30 minutes. America has given you Britney, SNL, and you’ve made her no fun. At long last, have you no decency?

So I’m sad to say it, but I’ve lived a little longer than the show and I’ve come up a lot wiser (not to mention a hell of a lot funnier), and someone has to call for it: just cancel SNL, guys. Just go gentle into that good night. You’re over. For reasons known only to God, Lorne Michaels refuses to fire the lot of his wretched, funereally unfunny cast (he could keep any or all of his three remaining decent players, if he can sober them up) and start from scratch. Doesn’t he remember what happened the last time he ditched the whole ship of fools and got newer, better fools? The show went from the televised armpit it had been with Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Anthony Michael Hall and became the talk of Monday mornings again with players like Phil Hartman, Mike Myers, Jan Hooks, even Victoria Jackson, for God’s sake. Hey, maybe they could get Victoria back — it’s not like she’s busy with her comedy career, and at her worst she’d be the best they have now. Scrap that lousy, vocally irritating woman and the weird black stepmom of a white-trash teenage girl, and give Amy Poehler something funny to do. Put Darrell Hammond onstage as Barack Obama and retire Fred Whatshisname to commercials — he might be as funny as the other nerds in those annoying Alltel ads, if he puts his back into it. If you have to wipe the whole slate clean, Lorne, do it — Amy and Darrell and Kenan are talented enough to land on their feet, and they’ll more than likely thank you for the intervention. But for God’s sake, man, do something, whether it’s firing everyone (start with the writers!) or axeing the show. Put us out of our misery. Bring our long national nightmare to an end. Do the right thing. Make us look forward to the weekends again.


Tagged Twice!

Posted in Slices of Life (add $1 for ice cream) with tags , , , , , , , , on March 14, 2008 by tigereye

…By the terrific Wanda Rizzuto and the awesome Daners Isadora. So, you may ask, what took me so long?… I’m the last idiot on the internet who doesn’t know how to make a hyperlink, that’s what. But I digress. Most of you already know I’m borderline hopeless in cyberspace, and those of you who don’t will certainly figure it out fast enough, since I posted the damn links in old-fashioned idiotese. But that’s awfully negative. Think of me as Old School, ‘Cause That’s Just How I Roll.

The game is this: Go back through my archives (whoa! dude! I actually have archives!) and post links to the following favorite posts:

1. About family: this will explain a lot about me.

The Great Christmas Tree Theft of 1989

 2. About friends. Well, close enough:

Spike: An Introduction

3. About myself. Well, as you might imagine, this was a tough one. Here’s the side of me I chose to highlight:

Five Great Places to Pick a Fight

4. Something I love. I almost chose politics, but y’all will see enough of that in the next few months, so I picked another favorite pastime:

The Last College Football Post My Friends Will Be Asked to Read Until August

5. Anything. This is probably my favorite post that I’ve done here:

Other Door

And I’m tagging the following cool people, ’cause I wouldn’t mind reading some more by and about them:

Anners Scribonia

Ameboid Blurry Smile



Quill Gordon

See y’all here again, I hope… If you don’t mind keeping it Old School…

Charlotte’s Web

Posted in Slices of Life (add $1 for ice cream) with tags , , , , on March 10, 2008 by tigereye

If you think this is going to be a heartwarming tale about a good book from my childhood, I cannot possibly tell you how wrong you are.

I’m extremely phobic about spiders. The earliest concept of hell I had as a child wasn’t a mental image of a fiery cavern — it was a damp, earthen-floored basement, dripping with cobwebs. There’s something unearthly and infernal about spiders: all those eerily crooked legs, that scuttling gait when they run or climb, the naked horror of the big hairy ones who jump, like they can’t possibly get close enough to you in order to scare the bejeezus out of you. Don’t even get me started on the poisonous ones. I saw my first black widow at about age ten and had more nightmares about it than anything else I’d seen until then, except the hideous baby from “It’s Alive” and a couple of campy monsters from Saturday afternoon reruns of “Shock Theater.”

If a spider is big enough to be visible to the naked eye, that means it’s grown big enough that it needs to be killed. If it’s larger than a nickel, that means it’s big enough that someone else needs to kill it, because I can’t bring myself to get close to the thing. My ideal spider-killing tool is a flamethrower, but none of my landlords has ever agreed with me about this.

When I lived in my first apartment, I had a small deck on my porch, and a writing spider took up residence there.

Here’s the exception: I don’t loathe and fear writing spiders the way I do the rest of their diabolical species, although I don’t plan to invite them in for cocktails, figuratively speaking. Writing spiders have had Charlotte and Miss Spider as their goodwill ambassadors, which means I won’t kill them. Some friends accuse me of having this particular rule so I won’t look ruthless and ill-tempered enough to kill Charlotte. To those friends, I say, I’m not inviting YOU over for drinks any time soon, either.

But anyway, writing spiders. I can restrict my phobia to a certain extent. I just save that unused horror for the next time Animal Planet features some fool pointing to a bird-eating spider, or John tells me about a recently discovered undersea arachnid that’s roughly the size of a ROOM —

‘Scuse me a minute.

OK, sorry about that, I just had to go take a couple of Valium to get past that image. I’m all right now. Really. The shaking goes away in a few minutes.

So a brightly painted yellow-orange-and-black writing spider moved onto my deck. I was unexpectedly cool with this. It was March or April, and I wasn’t going to be using the deck for at least another month or two anyway, by which time Charlotte would’ve either bought the farm or moved on to one. And I had to admit the web was a work of art, enormous and symmetrical. She could’ve caught a beagle in it. I admired it from a healthy distance: at the time I was still a size 2 and didn’t want to end up in some spider’s freezer, waiting for the next time the spider family wanted Irish Stew.

Charlotte put her web up every evening and took it down early the next morning. For a few days it went up and came down in roughly the same spot, the far corner of the deck. If she’d asked me, I would’ve said that was the best place for it. Instead she began moving the web in increments: it crept along the length of the deck, closer and closer to my front door and my uncomfortable proximity. It was OK, I told myself. Writing spiders were harmless. Harmless! Charlotte could only harm me if I was a grasshopper. Besides, the children’s department supervisor at work had just read the “Miss Spider” books at storytime last week, and even I had been charmed. I couldn’t bring myself to fear Miss Spider, right? None of the four-year-olds had seemed to.

The web moved closer yet to the door, finally approaching the steps at the corner of the deck, still too close for my taste but apparently moving south, down the handrail. This was fine. I didn’t need to use the handrail anyway, I told myself — a short fall wouldn’t even bruise me, and besides, a couple more days and she’d be gone.

The morning after I had this desperate thought, I was scheduled in early for work. I had to leave the house just before sunrise to make it on time, and I went about my usual morning routine and opened the door to leave.

There was Charlotte’s web, spread across the doorway, exactly the way a horror-movie director would place it. And smack in the middle, at face level, sat Charlotte, probably blinking at me with (shudder) all eight eyes.

I screamed so loud my throat hurt.

I slammed the door and backed the hell away, still shaking, and a few minutes later opened the door just a crack. Yep. Still there. She was slightly bigger than a Cadbury Candy Easter Egg. If she was, like her namesake, pregnant, she looked ready to deliver the world’s entire population of writing spiders for the next year.

I shut the door again and thought about my options. There had to be somebody I could call.

My dad was at work.

My boyfriend was at work.

The police would lecture me for calling 911 over a spider, unless  — and I seriously considered this — I stabbed my own fingertip with a safety pin and claimed I’d been bitten. (I had terrific health insurance at that job.)

So, watching the clock, I did what any reasonable arachnophobe would do: I called in sick to work.

I didn’t open the door again until three in the afternoon, when I knew Charlotte would’ve taken down her latest display. That evening I called my boyfriend and he brought over a can of New and Improved Raid! Now With Malathion, and we shellacked my entire apartment front with it. We then spent the rest of the night coughing up pieces of our own lungs amid the resulting cloud.

The next morning Charlotte was gone. I felt guilty for about 0.05 second, but on my way to the car I felt less so: she’d packed up and moved across the way, to live on the front porch of a neighbor I didn’t like.

I never sold another Miss Spider book without a brief attack of the shivers.


Posted in Slices of Life (add $1 for ice cream) with tags , , on March 6, 2008 by tigereye

This is an emergency/substitute post. Your regularly scheduled post should return tomorrow.

Why are men so goddamned stupid? WHY?

The Brits Are Here and They’re Kicking Our Asses

Posted in Slices of Life (add $1 for ice cream) with tags , , , , , , , on March 3, 2008 by tigereye

And I’m enjoying every minute of it. It’s like the sixties, with eyeliner and profanity.

I thought at first it was going to be all sunshine and happy love songs, and hard as it may be to believe, I can get into that sometimes. First I heard Corinne Bailey Rae, little skinny girl with a lovely voice, and I thought she sounded enough like Norah Jones for me to buy her CD. It’s pretty good, by the way.

Then it was Amy Winehouse, who I love because she’s so into her fucked-up weird self. She celebrates her crazy in a way I wish I had the nerve to try. What if I’d woken up one day in my early 20s, looked in the mirror at a horrible hair day, and decided to embrace my ugly side with 40 full-color tattoos and a pierced face? I might not be gorgeous, motherfucker, but you’ll remember me. And then she’s got that amazing voice, which, strangely, goes with the rest of the screwy package. It makes you think about how the most talented people you knew in college were all train wrecks.

And now, in a fit of unsuspected novelty, VH1 presented me the other day with Kate Nash, singing this weird wonderful  edgy song about a relationship coming apart, “Foundations.” Who the hell worth knowing hasn’t felt this way? I mentioned it to a friend the evening after we’d both had a bad day (although hers was worse) and she bought the CD. Two days later she returned the favor and sent me a terrific song, with the same spare, bare-bones arrangement around the vocals as “Foundations,” except this song began, “Why you bein’ a dickhead for… Stop bein’ a dickhead….”

Holy shit. It was like my brain had somehow clawed free of my skull and then gone and got itself a recording contract.

I bought that CD too.

Where are all the pissed-off American women? Even the ones I love are awfully fucking mellow lately. I adore Norah Jones, but “My Dear Country” is about as angry as she gets, and it’s more bitter than hostile. Alanis Morrisette grew up and went away, and I really can’t argue with that. There was Shirley Manson of Garbage — she always seemed too tough to be crossed, but now that I think about it she might be British, in which case I should’ve Googled her before I brought her up. And while Queen Latifah still rules, she’s mellowed more than I would’ve ever expected.

“Thirty-five people couldn’t count on two hands the amount of times you’ve made me stop and think why you bein’ a dickhead for…”

What’s the matter with us, America? Why couldn’t someone over here write that? This woman’s going to be looked at in 20 years like Joni Mitchell. She’s a prophet. It’s not like we’ve got nothing to be pissed off about — we watch the news, right? That’s not just me, is it?

Seriously. The voice of reason just released a great angry album with a bunch of songs that are like brilliant little time-release photos of a couple falling apart. Or maybe the voice of reason is a screwed-up crackhead who might not be good enough to attend the Grammys but was awesome enough to win one. And sometimes it’s a romantic, jazz-obsessed teenager.

I can be all three of these and more at times. But I can’t sing. Who’s gonna step up to the plate?