Tuesday, September 4, 2007

I don't have a Broadway lyric for this title...

My last few posts have been on the serious side, so I decided there needed to be a change. I have come to ask myself a simple question recently – what has happened to television? I’m not sure, but what I am sure of is that it is making us dumber. With a lack of new ideas and an abundance of “reality” shows now on television the world is slowly becoming dumber. This is directly reflected in its programming. Lets first talk about “reality” shows. I put reality shows in quotation marks because they are in no way reality. No one acts like people on those reality shows, they just don’t. If you look at the credits these “reality’ shows have writers and script coordinators. Last time I checked “reality” isn’t scripted. If it is, I want a new scriptwriter. The two “reality” shows that really make me angry are NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” and ABC’s “Fat March” (yes that really is the title). The reason these two get me angry is because they bill themselves as trying to help overweight people, but they are just exploiting them. Before even watching the show you can tell something isn’t right just by the titles. Both titles mock the contestants. On “The Biggest Loser” contestant work with trainers and compete in competitions to lose the most weight. Thus gaining the title “the biggest loser”. I understand the title refers to the people losing weight. These TV executives new what they were doing when they named it that. Even if these poor people win, they are still crowned with the name “the biggest loser”. Last time I checked that was a name usually given to the head of a high school chess team or the leader of the national dungeons and dragons association. Nevertheless the name is derogatory. I’ve never brought myself to watch “Fat March” but I can only imagine what that winner is crowned, maybe “the fattest marcher”? I’m not sure. From what I understand it is a show where a bunch of overweight people walk from Boston to Washington D.C. in order to lose weight. I’m still not convinced that is the best title for the show. Can you imagine the pitch meeting for the title?

Executive #1:Well…um…so far we’ve narrowed it down to…heavy hustle, overweight hike, chubby run, large walk, chunky skip and fat march

Executive # 2: Hmm…those sound great. We just have to pick the one that will be least offensive to overweight people and still target our demographic”

Executive #1: How about ‘Heavy Hustle’?

Executive #2: No that implies that they are dancing. Will they dance?

Executive #1: No, they’ll just march.

Executive #2: Well…let’s go with ‘Fat March’ then. I see nothing wrong with that title.

Executive #1: Neither do I sir.

Okay, reality shows get me crazy so I’m going to shift gears. How about the new TV season? It is September, so now is the time when they bring out all of the terrible television programs that will probably be gone by January. Let’s start with the worst Idea in television – ever, a little show called “Cavemen”. A television show based on the cavemen from the Geico Insurance commercials. Who thinks this is a good idea? There actually had to be someone who looked at those stupid commercials and said,“ hey, I bet a half hour of that would be hilarious”. That person needs to be fired. Its not funny for twenty seconds, what makes anyone in they’re right mind think it will be funny for thirty minutes. This season the classic game show “The Price is Right” is getting a new host after Bob Barker, host for close to 40 years, retired. The new host – Drew Carey. Alright, I’m not a huge fan of him, but he’s funny – at times. What I find funny is that he injured himself the first day on the job. Okay, I don’t usually laugh at other people’s pain (sometimes), but he caught his arm in one of the games as it spun around. Bob barker hosted the show for forty years, not one injury. This guy has the job for less than an hour and ends up in the hospital. I find it amusing. What else? The View has a new co-host. You’re probably thinking the same thing as me; The View is still on? Hugh Jackman and Melanie Griffith have a new Drama debuting on CBS. There is good news and bad news about this show. The good news is that it is a musical and Hugh Jackman will be singing. The bad news is that it is a musical and Melanie Griffith will be singing, too. Fox is trying it’s hand at producing something good that isn’t ‘Family Guy’ with ‘Back to You’. It’s a newsroom comedy starring Kelsey Grammar and Patricia Heaton. Heaton will star as a news anchorwoman and Grammar will start as Frasier (the only character he knows how to play). Pee Wee Herman (Paul Reubens) will return to TV in ABC’s ‘Pushing Daisies’. The premise of this show being a man can touch dead people and bring them back to life. A commercial for the show says that the man touches murder victims, brings them back to life for a few minutes, finds out who killed them and collects the rewards for turning those people in. That is a terrible premise. If this guy has the ability to bring people back to life why doesn’t he just let them live? Rather than kill them again and gain money by exploiting their death. Get this – it’s a comedy. I don’t understand television. It really is the reason American’s are stupid.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Any Dream Will Do?

My Life is slowly becoming a full-fledged musical. I’ve already owned up to the fact that I am Bobby from Company. I’m also aware I think a lot like the Baker’s Wife from Into the Woods (do I see a Sondheim theme here?). What happened to me this weekend really kind of scared me into thinking that any day my life could complete turn into a musical, with people bursting into song all around me. When that happens it will be either the best day of my life or the day I check into Bellevue. To paraphrase The Drowsy Chaperone “Anyone who breaks out into song in real life is just hopelessly deranged”. That was a long opening paragraph to get what I really wanted to talk about my own “dream ballet”. As you probably know I’m not a fan of the “dream ballet” that occurs in Oklahoma. Well after seeing it three time in the past two weeks it apparently have taken over my subconscious.

***Let me preface this explanation of my own “dream ballet” by saying that the names of the people in the dream have been changed to protect the innocent ( and because the two people who read my blog know one if not both of the people in the dream) ***

So went away this weekend and like I always do on long trips I fell a sleep. Luckily I don’t drive because that could have spelled disaster for those in the car. Now this is the first of what I can only assume will be the recurring “marriage dreams”. I’ve had all the regular dreams. I don’t know if this makes any sense, but work with me. “Marriage dreams” are dreams in which your fears about marriage or relationship become very clear. Its ridiculous really because I’m not in a relationship nor am I getting married any time soon. Up until this point I haven’t had any as vivid as this one. Anyway this marriage dream falls directly into the “dream ballet” category because it mirrored the dream that Laurey has in Oklahoma. I’m not sure if it actually did but, it reminded me a great deal of it anyway. So here it is:

I’m was standing at an alter and down the aisle walks my bride. I think to myself “wow, she’s beautiful even more beautiful than I ever remember”. She gets to me and I remove her veil which has been hiding her face this entire time. I look at her and she is Jane 1 ( I’ll number them to make it easier). Jane 1 is an attractive friend of mine who I have never had an interest in marrying and never will (no offense to her). I realize it is her and start to freak out and start telling everyone in the church that there has been a mistake. I begin to run out of the church when two people who I would never invite to my wedding (they are just acquaintances) tackle me and tell me I have to marry Jane 1. They drag me back to the alter and I tell Jane 1 I can’t marry her. She doesn’t understand why and tells the priest to start. He begins to marry us and I find that I cannot move. I am stuck there. She says, “oh, well”. Finally at the top of my lungs I yell, “ I can’t marry you. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life with you. I can’t spend my life with you. I would much rather marry (as I scan the crowd I see Jane 2) Jane 2!”. Jane 2 stands up and runs over to me. I explain that although Jane 1 is attractive and all I can’t marry Jane 1. I don’t recall the reasons I gave her I just know I convince her and the guests at the wedding I should marry Jane 2. The crowd seems stunned and all of the sudden a lynch mob, straight out of ‘Frankenstein’, begins to attack Jane 2 running her out of the church, pitchforks and all. That was the point when I woke up.

I don’t think I have ever remembered a dream so vividly in my entire life. I’m not into the whole “what does your dream mean?” thing, but after that I’m curious. I wonder if there is any strange lessons that should be learned from it (other than to remind my wedding guest to leave pitchforks at home). I just feel there had to be some reason why the dream was so vivid and why I remembered it so vividly. I don’t know what it is. If either of you (yes the two who read my blog) want to try to interpret it please do so. I’m looking for any insight. Its been bothering me for the past couple of days. Anyway…just thought I’d get that out of my system. I don’t understand it and hopefully soon I will. Hopefully I won’t be having any more dreams like that any time soon.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Into the woods I have to go.....

I’ve had an interesting couple of weeks. I’ve ended my four-month Richter marathon when ‘On The Twentieth Century’ closed a couple of weeks ago. My class is almost over which means out into the world I will go. I have to begin the job hunt. Fun. I came to realize this is my last “summer”. While the actual season will not go away the meaning of it will. Summer was always the time before going back to school. Well, no more of that for me. In a few weeks I will hold my membership card to the world – a diploma. It means I’m a functioning person in society. I can’t use the “I’m a student” excuse anymore. Seeing as this is my last “summer” I decided to reflect on what has taken place this summer. I came to one conclusion – I wouldn’t trade it for the world. As much as I complained and hemmed and hawed (yes I said hawed – I am 72!) about doing two musicals back to back and all the rehearsal time I spent at Richter. I loved every minute of it. The people involved in my life this summer and the moments.

I say moments not referring to every single second that passed by, but the times this summer that really impacted my life in good ways and in bad. I am reminded of a song in Into The Woods with the following lyrics:

Just a moment,
One peculiar passing moment...
Must it all be either less or more,
Either plain or grand?
Is it always "or"?
Is it never "and"?
That's what woods are for:
For those moments in the woods...

Oh. if life were made of moments,
Even now and then a bad one-!
But if life were only moments,
Then you'd never know you had one.

It got me thinking about “moments” I’ve had this summer and how I tried to categorize them much like the Baker’s wife does in this song. Who defines what our moments are? Society seems to dictate what our “moments” should be. Shouldn’t we be the ones to decide? “must it either be less or more? / either planned or grand? / is it always or? / is it never and?”. Our moments need to fit a certain category not only in society, but with our own expectations. Personally, this summer, I don’t feel like I have lived up to what my mind tells me these moments should be. I don’t know if I’m making any sense but I need to vent. Is there no in between for certain moments? Is it always less or more than we expected? Why can’t it be just what we expected? Why do we always get choices with moments. And why do I always seem to make the wrong choice when it comes to moments.

The Baker’s wife sings “if life were only moments / then you’d never know you had one”. This addresses that time in between. The time you have to reflect on those moments and realize that you’ve done something horribly wrong or something fantastically right. That time is the “conscience”. Moments come sporadically and without planning, all you can do is let them happen. The look back and criticize. I find myself criticizing more and more what I shouldn’t be criticizing. I just don’t understand it. Why can’t I just let my moments be moments and not analyze them to death?

The song ends with the Baker’s wife singing:

Let the moment go...
Don't forget it for a moment, though.
Just remembering you've had and "and",
When you're back to "or",
Makes the "or" mean more
Than it did before.
Now I understand-

And it's time to leave the woods.

The Baker’s wife realizes that no matter how much we scrutinize our moments, they are just that – moments. They help define who you are, but they are just a small portion of who you are, they are not life changing events. Is that really true? Moments can drastically affect a life. If the Baker’s wife told the Baker about kissing the prince, what would have happened? Would he have left her? There have a been a ton of moments this summer that I have reflected on recently and wondered “what if?”, but then I realize that would only get me crazy if I focused on that. I have come to the realization there is a reason I act the way I do. There is a reason the moments I have had this summer turned out the way they did. What that reason is, is still unclear to me. When I figure it out I will let you know. I understand if this entry is a little cryptic, but honestly it makes sense, I promise.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Is Nothing Sacred?

Alvin and the Chipmunks Circa 1980's

Alvin and the Chipmunks Circa 2007

Underdog Circa 1960's

Underdog Circa 2007

Betty & Veronica Circa 1950's

Betty & Veronica Circa 2007

This is a sad commentary on the entertainment business when these cultural icons can't be left alone.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Run and Tell That...

I just got back from seeing ‘Hairspray’ and am very upset. Hollywood ruined what could have been a great movie musical. They cut all of the humor out and just made the movie weird and awkward. The re-wrote all of the good stuff from the stage show out of it. The completely changed the meaning of “Without Love”. The song is supposed to be the two girls being rescued by their true loves. Here it was reduced to an untalented High School Musical Alumnus singing to a freaking picture, which sung back! I don’t know what scared me more John Travolta’s prosthetic face or Michelle Pffiefer’s regular face. She’s been nipped and tucked so many times she has lost the ability to have emotions. There is a great line in the movie (one of the few) in which Christopher Walken makes a plastic surgery joke to Pffiefer. I’m sure that was very intentional on the part of the writers. The director of this movie obviously doesn’t know how to do “camp”. He attempted to make it “real”, which the show is not. I’m not exactly sure what country Travolta’s Edna was supposed to be from, but I don’t think it was America. His accent was atrocious. Hollywood basically cut Penny Pingleton ( my favorite character) down to what seemed to be a total of ten spoken lines and a few reaction shots. She is the funniest part about ‘Hairspray’ and I was sure Amanda Bynes would have been hilarious if given good material. She unfortunately was not.

As Much as I disliked the movie there were a few saving graces to it. First, Allison Janney as Prudy Pingleton. I didn’t think anyone could top the amazing Jackie Hoffman, but she was as funny, if not funnier. As Penny’s racist and very religious mother. The other saving grace was some of the cameos in the movie. John Waters as “the flasher who lives next door” made me smile. I was happy to see the original acknowledged. Another wink to the original was Ricki Lake ( the original Tracy) as a talent scout. Marc Shaiman, who wrote all of the music for the Broadway show and the movie also pops up as one of the talent scouts. Lastly, Jerry Stiller as Mr. Pinky the owner of the Hefty Hideaway was semi-entertaining, but very random. I truly do not see what everyone is raving about. Every person who has seen this film loves it and the critics love it as well. I just don’t understand. Maybe I cannot separate the Broadway show from the Movie, but I still don’t understand the fuss.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Is Rory Gilmore Transfering to WCSU?

Today I walked onto what I thought was the WCSU midtown campus. I, apparently, was wrong. As I looked around signs told me otherwise. Signs that used to read “WCSU – Western Connecticut State University” now read “RISD – Rhode Island School of Design”. What was the old science building had now become the RISD art building. I thought I was losing my mind. I was beginning to wonder what was in the Starbucks I had just finished drinking. I wondered if this was some elaborate dream and I was about to wake up. Then I saw her. Rory Gilmore, also known as Alexis Bledel. She was walking around the corner of a building. I was sure I had gone crazy. Then a minute later came two cameras following her. I wasn’t crazy!

Some time ago movie scouts had come to the WCSU theater department looking for locations for “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2”. After visiting they told the theater department that they would be letting them know when they were coming. That was the last I had heard about it. This was them! In the sequel Alexis’ character ( I never saw the first so I don’t know her name). Goes to art school. That art school – WCSU! Well…RISD, but when all of us WestConn folks see it, we will know. Today they were filming a dozen or so scenes on the quad, in front of the student center and in front of the “art” building. The exterior of the science building is being used as the art building but the are actually using the WCSU art classrooms for classrooms in the movie.

After class this morning I stayed and watched them filming for a little bit. I got to say hello to Alexis and she said hello back. She seemed very nice. I left and came back a little while later with my sister. She is a HUGE Gilmore Girls fan and she wanted to meet her. Unfortunately she was very busy filming so that didn’t happen. We’re going to go down there again tomorrow. The crew is there until Friday. I was excited to be on a professional movie set. I hadn’t been on one since “Mr. Deeds”. This was much better experience. Deeds had hundreds of people flocking there to watch because it was Winonna Ryder, Adam Sandler and Peter Gallagher. The only big name at this shoot is Alexis. There were a lot less people. Plus the crew was so nice. I was able to get really close to the filming area. Honestly I think they thought I was an extra so they let me go anywhere. That was fine with me. I think I may have slipped into a few of the shots as well. So I guess I’ll be going to see this movie I would never see in theaters normally, just to find myself. It was fun. SPOILER ALERT – Alexis’ character kisses a guy in front of the ‘art’ building, but doesn’t really love him. Another scene involves another guy attempting to kiss her and she pulls away and walks away harshly while he stares longingly at her. SPOILER OVER. Anyway – I’m going back tomorrow, so maybe another report tomorrow ( and if I have my way - news that I’m going on a date with Alexis Bledel, but I doubt that will happen).

Sunday, July 15, 2007

I Am My Own Worst Enemy

I haven’t updated this in a while and finally got some free time so here goes…These past few weeks have been pure insanity. Fiddler has opened and closed, I’ve stopped working at Cartus, started taking a Chaucer course and opened 20th Century. That’s the short list. I’ve also done a great deal of evaluation these past couple of weeks, evaluation of my life and everything in it. I came to a startling conclusion; I am my own worst enemy. I kind of already thought that but after looking at recent things that have happened to me I have come to a full realization. I get in my own way. I am afraid of failure; it is as simple as that. So in order not to fail, I don’t try. When I do try I don’t give it one hundred percent because what would be the point? The times I have given one hundred percent have resulted in failure. I know failing is okay. Someone needs to tell my brain that.

This is one of the main reasons I cannot be an actor for a living. I can’t deal with rejection. I just don’t have the drive most actors do. After sitting in the audition room for the Broadway tour of ‘The Producers’ earlier this year I have realized I’m not one of them. I don’t NEED the job. Those people needed the job to survive. I could never live that way. There were people at that audition that had five or six others that same day. I will forever remember a quote from Felicia Finley who was starring in Wedding Singer. She said, “Opening night of Wedding Singer I had another audition earlier that day, because you just never know how long a show will last”. That really had an effect on me. I need steady work. I can’t always be on the verge of failure. I’ve realized that this is the reason I have not had one decent relationship – ever. I’m afraid to go after the girl. When I finally get up the nerve, she’s either with someone else or gone for good. I’m afraid because most of the time I become such good friends with the girl that I fear losing that friendship. I just don’t know. This is something I just have to get over and soon, if I ever want to be successful in life.