tv

Couch Potato

You can always count on a CSI or a Law & Order to be showing on one channel or another. Things like that help me feel like the world is as it should be. I mean, if you can’t grab a snack and immediately and mindlessly get involved in solving a murder, then I don’t know how to go on.

Someday, there will come a time when I search the channels unsuccessfully. I won’t be able to find people in dark dress clothes combing though someone’s lawn and using special flashlights to find blood residue. I won’t be able to watch as they process evidence using amazing equipment that doesn’t exist in the real world. I won’t hear the funky instrumental music as they turn dials and look closely at beakers filled with colored water. I won’t be able to watch people’s body language as they enter, fill in a blank piece of knowledge and then walk out. Are they going to hook up or what?

On that day, my friends, I will grieve. And then I’ll scan the channels for repeats of Mad Men.

You Can't Take Me Anywhere

Yesterday I went to the Tara set and met some wonderful people. I got to see how they shoot and watch the monitors and listen with the headphones. I sat by the writers and chatted and joked around. My first time ever on a set, and I think I nailed it.

For example, Toni Collette (I adore her!) (Super talented!) came to shake my hand right after I wiped my nose with my fingers and then wiped them down the side of my jeans. I turned around to meet John Corbett just as I was hiking my bra strap back up my shoulder. He does seem to be one of the nicest guys ever. When I was introduced to Keir Gilchrist, I was just coming out of one of those surreal moments where you can’t believe you are really where you are, doing what you’re doing. So, I was kind of staring off into space for a sec, jumped when I realized he was right there and then shook his hand very enthusiastically. Which, he loved just like any other 18ish guy would.

I was around Brie Larson (Used to be a pop star! How cute is she with the french fries and shit!) the most. She was joking around with some of the most awesome writers to ever grace the earth, Brett and Dave, and I was in a nearby directors chair, surreptitiously listening and trying to appear like I was busy with something on my phone. Which I was not. Because my battery was almost dead. So, I’m just sitting there, half turned their way and randomly clicking buttons on the phone’s keypad, which is CLOSED. And then I thought to myself – this is pathetic. And it was. I put my phone in my pocket and turned more their way and started interjecting laughter and smiles at what I hoped was appropriate timing. Ha ha ha! You know the scene in 16 Candles where Anthony Michael Hall’s character is sitting on the bleachers at the dance trying to start up a conversation with Molly Ringwald’s character? Ya, kinda like that. The three of them were so witty, I had no hope of keeping up. So, instead I blurted, ‘I love your tattoos!’ to Dave in the middle of their dialog regarding a Craigslist murderer. It went really smooth. You should know that this little incident is not their fault at all. They were very, very nice to me. I just happen to be a dork sometimes.

I also met Rosemarie DeWitt, who was beautiful, very nice and friendly. She was recently in the movie Rachael Getting Married. (LOVED it. Very good flick.) With her was Ron Livingston and I had to actually bite my lip from leaning over and whispering in his ear, ‘I hate my job and I’m not going to do it anymore.’ in my very best Peter Gibbons‘ impression. Or, ‘Uuumm, yaaaa. Peter. I’m going to have to go ahead and ask you to come in this weekend.’ Both, hysterical. To me. I’m sure he’s never had anyone do that before.

At one point, I went next door to do an interview they filmed to use in the season 2 promos and on the Tara website. I was a little nervous at first, but everyone there made me feel so comfortable, it went fine. I said Um a lot and kept checking the ceiling to my left after every question, apparently waiting for the answer to float down softly like snow. Which, could happen on a set. Look for that, friends. I’m adding awesome interviewee to my repertoire.

The director of the interview wanted to shoot some B roll footage to cut to during the times when my talking head gets boring to look at in the editing room. They told me to not look at the camera and just keep doing what I ‘normally’ do. Hm. So, I stared at the screens and looked at some footage. Then, I held the headphones to my ears and stared even harder at the screen, accompanied by a small but distinct furrowed brow, showing real concentration which almost burned a hole on screen one. After about 6 solid minutes of that excitement, the director asked me to talk to the writers and do some pointing, which the writers were very good sports about. The dialog for that conversation went something like this –

Me – Um.
Brett – Now let’s look at this page in the script. See where she says, ‘Can I?’
Me – Now I’m pointing, too. Yes. Pointing right there.
Brett – Let’s turn to this other page and see where I’m pointing?
Me – Yes, I see that. Right here?
Director – More Pointing!
Me – Oh, look. Look at the screen!
*I point furiously, from screen to screen then back to script, sweat forming on my neck and glistening on my forehead.*
Brett – Yes, I really see you pointing now. You’re pointing at the screen and now at the script.
*My arm is stuck in some kind of pointing pattern up and down and up and down.*
Director – -sigh-
Cameraman – I guess there is a reason you guys are writers and not actors.

And, scene.

The thing I noticed when meeting everyone on set, and this goes for meeting anyone anywhere for the first time that knows I’m MPD, is that they say hello a little cautiously, with some curiosity in their eyes. They study me for just a second or two, trying to decide if I’m an ACTUAL crazy person about to do ACTUAL crazy things or if I’m mostly tame. I enjoy that moment immensely. And one of these days, I tell ya, I’m gonna do something completely bizarre after shaking their hand, like start ticking my head to the right repeatedly and saying, ‘Not NOW, Satan. Not NOW!’ I’ll wait til I meet Steven Spielberg to use that one.

Take Me Back

Back when I was married to my first husband and my first son, Devon, was about a year old, we bought our first Nintendo. (How many times can you say first in one sentence?) We said it was for Devon but really it was for us. The first game we owned was Super Mario Bros and I played that game until I figured out all the tricks and how to beat it. Then we put it away for a few years until Devon was actually old enough to hold a controller and brought it out again for him. And then I played it and played it until I could beat it again.

Joe bought it using Wiiware the other night and I’ve been playing it but I haven’t been able to beat the game again yet. The highest I’ve got to is 7.3. Those dang ninjas with their flying numchucks kill me at least once every time they are around.

I can’t get into the games they put out now with all the graphics and the moving in 3-d. It just makes me car sick and there is too much blood usually for my delicate palate. But Mario Bros? Dude. Yes.

Ripa

“There is nothing on. We could be forced to watch the biography of Kelly Ripa. There are things about her you don’t even know you want to know.”

“There is only one P in Ripa?”

“Yes.”

“Well, that’s about all I wanted to know.”

United States of Tara

Today marks the first day of production for The United States of Tara. I’m so excited for this series. Not just because it’s about a mother trying to cope with a dissociative disorder and raise her child (which is an awesome premise for a show) but also because they’ve asked me to work with them over at Dreamworks and who wouldn’t be excited about that?

My job is basically to answer questions as they come up for the actors or writers on how to keep the show authentic and real. This I can do. Nothing like having a job where you just get to be yourself. And I even get my name in the credits. That kind of blew me away.

Toni Collette is playing the woman with the dissociative disorder which is all kinds of awesome. I’ve loved her ever since seeing Muriel’s Wedding, still one of my favorite movies. The pilot is being created first, of course, and there is no guarantee that the series will even get made unless the public wants it. But Steven Spielberg and Diablo Cody are behind it so it feels like it’s got the backing it needs to really fly. Only time will tell. Look for the pilot in a few months time coming to Showtime. You can get updates from Diablo Cody’s MySpace and I’ll do what updating I can here as well.

Celebrity Rehab

My latest television obsession is Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. It’s like watching Surreal Life and Intervention at the same time. The celebrities are mostly washed-up as far as stardom goes but most seem to really want to make a change in their life. The exception being Jeff Conaway whose slurred mumblings, seizures, DTs and vomiting spells STILL don’t create the fire under his seat to want to change. Also, the Baldwin brother drives me batty with all his creepy ‘I’m the therapist, too’ talk and guilt trips he tries to put on other people. It’s obvious he’s been to a lot of therapy and he knows how to talk the talk but he just doesn’t do it well. He doesn’t really know how to help people, he just knows how to make them feel guilty.

I watch Celebrity Rehab with the same fervor that I watch Intervention or any documentary on eating disorders – I’m reminding myself where I don’t want to be. I’m living proof that you can overcome addictions of many kinds and there is something about watching other people go through the experience that is so compelling to me. I think it’s the same kind of reaffirmation you get from going to AA meetings. It’s good to see people working to overcome and working through their shit.

Dr. Drew’s (who you may know from Loveline) approach reminds me of many of the good doctors and therapists that I’ve been lucky enough to know over the years. He’s straight to the point, no holds barred but all with an air of confidence that you can do it! He centers the patients within a few moments of talking with them and you can immediately see where the reality TV wears off and the real therapy begins.

So much of life (for many people) is avoiding real feelings and situations. And once you start avoiding with drugs or something else, the something else starts to take over and I don’t think you know when it stops being something you do ‘for fun’ and it begins to be something you can’t stop doing. But, one day, you wake up and can’t remember the last weekend or weeknight for that matter that you didn’t get high or get smashed or go home with a random stranger or a friend with benefits and you’re broke and broken and you start to feel in your gut that maybe, just maybe, your life is not really in your control anymore. And then you score some Meth or Coke and forget all about it for a few more hours.

Watching these sex, drug and alcohol addicts coming to a place where they can see how to make changes is absolutely fascinating to me. As is watching them backslide and then try again. I remember it all.

I have nights where I can’t sleep because I’m remembering some of those times where I was willing to do just about anything to score some drugs and I didn’t care who I hurt or what it cost me. I cringe and say some forgiveness affirmations to myself and I try to shut out the visual images in my brain and fall asleep. But usually, it takes a long time to move on from those thoughts to something else. My addiction times have really scarred me and I have no fail-safe way to really and actually forgive myself for all the damage I did. I know it’s not healthy to dwell on it and I know it’s not helping me. But I can’t figure out how to let it go.

Trussed

I’ve had a thing about raw fowl flesh for as long as I can remember. We used to have chickens when I was little and THE worst job in the world, even worse that collecting the green horned tomato worms, was getting stuck doing the chickens. The chopping their heads off. The blood. The smell of the boiling water on their feathers and the plucking, plucking, plucking. Makes me sick to my stomach just thinking about it.

Every time Thanksgiving rolls around, I have a few uncomfortable moments while I think about how gross it is to touch the turkey and then Joe looks at my face and says he’ll take care of it. Phew. Ok. Crisis averted.

This year, I watched non-stop cooking shows on TV for about a month leading up to Thanksgiving and I kept watching how it was no big deal, this touching the raw turkey thing. Those television people just toss it around like it’s no big thing and salt it and butter it and put their fingers under the top layer of skin and put herbs in it and stuff the butt cavity with whatever and I almost had myself convinced that I could do it this year. Almost.

And then it was 9am on Tday morning and Joe was upstairs sleeping and I didn’t want to wake him and the turkey needed to get in the oven and I grabbed that organic, free-range 22 pound turkey from Whole Foods out of the fridge and tossed it in the sink. I looked at it. Considered it. Poked it.

And then the most amazing thing happened. It was like I was watching the TV. My Primal Cook skills came out and I rinsed, dried, seasoned and trussed that sucker like nobody’s business. Then I popped it in the oven and by the time Joe got downstairs it had already been cooking for an hour.

Amazingly, it turned quite delicious. I’ve decided the answer is to always watch more television.

Two Links

1) Joe and I stumbled upon Rob and Big sometime on Friday and the rest of the weekend we watched episodes online whenever possible. We’ve seen them all now and the last one was just as good as the first. Pro skater Rob Dyrdek and his bodyguard Christopher “Big Black” Boykin have a relationship that kind of defies probabilities. It’s male bonding at its finest. (And his Bulldog (who gets his own pet miniature horse) learns to skate!)

2) I’ve been laughing about these photos of Kevin for days. I recommend them to anyone trying to get through a hard time.

First Name Mistah

Last night, while trying to avoid more election coverage, because OK WE GET IT: things are changing and it’s about damn time, Joe and I stumbled on a gem. Were you aware that Firstname Mr. Lastname T has his own series? It’s called I Pity the Fool. Mr. T goes to places he’s needed like a dance class and to get a pedicure, and he straightens those fools out. Bonus: a slow-mo of Mr. T turning an entire circle on one foot. I think they call it a pirouette?

On the official TV Land website, you can find helpful tips from Mr. T. He’ll remind you to brush your teeth and to allow your date a chance to speak on your first date. In his birthday message, he reminds you that you aren’t getting any younger, tubby. You can even send that as a message to a dear friend. And my favorite:

Motivation for the New Parents

Are you feeling overwhelm?
Are you feeling in too deep?
You been given a special giff
A special giff that won’t let you sleep!
What did you expect?
It’s a baby!
Of course it goin to be cryin’ all the time!
Now get off your butt and go check that diaper
And congratulation on this bless event.

Seriously, I love Mr. T. So, cut the jibba jabba and go check out his website, fool. He comes in second in my heart only to Hawk, who wins because he has a beautifully coiffed feather scalp cap which I always thought looked mysteriously similar to the chicken feathers us kids had to pluck during those fun, special family times known as ‘Slaughter Day.’

It appears I have a thing for TV men with odd hair choices.

UPDATE: For my friends in other countries (because it appears that this top secret information is not readily available to people outside the USA…..?)

Hello. My Name is Leah and I'm an Addict. (Hello, Leah.)

I’m embarrassed to admit it, but what the hell, that’s what I do here. I’m a total addict. In previous years, I managed to keep my compulsion to a lower level, maybe needing a fix only once a week or so, but right now? It’s nightly.

Every late afternoon, I start to feel the creep. My mind starts doing the checklist of how long until I have the opportunity to ‘get right’ again. And then 8pm rolls around, Primetime starts and all is right with the world. I exhale a slow, long breath and put the gun away. I blame my crisis on being forced to relax and be in bed for weeks. Morning programming was the gateway drug and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to shake my nightly routine at this point. Thanks a lot, The View! I’ve given up. What’s the saying – Let Go and Let God? Yes, I’m sure He’s watching Dancing With the Stars, too. Can’t get enough of that crazy Jerry.

Here are my favorites and even my not-so-favorites that I must continue watching because I know what’s going on, and how often does that happen?? Heroes is THE best show. I don’t think I can express how much I love it so you’ll just have to tune in for yourself. Lost is pretty great this season. I didn’t watch it that much in previous years, but apparently, this is the magic year for me. Six Degrees, The Nine and Brothers and Sisters* are examples of shows that are not that great but since I like some of the actors and I happen to know most of the characters’ names and where they fit in with each other, I must keep watching. Studio 60 and 30 Rock, both based on SNL, are both good. I think it’s the best thing Alec Baldwin has ever done. Last night his character set up Tina Fey‘s character on a blind date with a woman. By the end of the episode, Tina agrees to someday do the sex stuff with her new friend, even though she’s straight, because she doesn’t want to lose her friendship with a female she can connect with. And what straight, single, middle-aged woman hasn’t thought about that? You’re older. You’ve learned to make compromises in your life. You’ve outgrown most of your childhood friends and it feels great to have a woman your age to go get coffee with. If you have to make out or use a strap-on to ensure you always have a date to the movies, then so be it.

Also on the roster are Gilmore Girls, which I really do feel has lost something since the creators have gone, the writing is just not quite right and I bet they don’t make it another season, and Grey’s Anatomy which is just as bad as ‘those afternoon stories’ and a good example of how crack kills because I usually have drool dripping off my chin by the end, and Ugly Betty, a surprise to me how much I like it, but America does such a great job in the lead role.

My Name is Earl and The Office are both awesome as per usual. The Biggest Loser, Dancing with the Stars, America’s Next Top Model and Desperate Housewives are Commercial Shows. Are you familiar with that term? No? Well, for those of us that don’t own a TiVo** and also hate commercials, it is imperative to have a show to turn to during the commercial breaks before your ears start to bleed. These are shows that you wouldn’t actually watch on their own per say, but because people are doing something semi-dramatic-interesting and in the case of ANTM, there are frequently portions of fighting and the rubbing of underwear on other people’s beds, it makes it worth a quick peek for 2.2 minutes at a time. More than that and you just might have to carve your brain out of your ears, so be careful.

Boston Legal keeps me captivated. The writing sometimes steps over the boundary of ‘you are a smart audience’ into ‘we are so clever! aren’t we so clever!?!’ which is a turn off, but most of the time James Spader and William Shatner make it all worth while. Especially Denny Crane’s new relationship with the midget. I kinda like Men in Trees. I know, right? Who would have thought. But I do. I have no explanation for you. Medium is almost back and that makes me happy. I know there are the unbelievers out there who don’t like Ms. Arquette for most of the same reasons I do like her.

I have no great ending to this post. I blame my addiction. My brain is full of over-dramatic and trite subplots that can be quickly wrapped up in 24 minutes or less. Let’s try this: What’s that? What do you mean? What are you saying?? There are dishes? In the sink?? That need washing?? And yes! I’m the only to get them done! I know! *sobbing* No! Don’t worry about me. Really. I’ll do them. *Sigh* Because in the pursuit of a cleaner kitchen and world peace, I must, I know. And I will! And when Veronica comes home from the hospital after getting her reconstructive surgery (made possible by body parts donated from the man that killed her mother two years ago while on safari) because of the plane crash she survived on the way to her honeymoon (when her new husband, Brock, died right after changing his will, which his first two wives will surely contest (and bring up the past when Veronica was put in the mental hospital (after she believed she could fly) ) ) and finds out the baby she gave away for adoption 10 years ago is now living next door (with her high school sweetheart who may or may not be the child’s real father) my kitchen will be clean and I’ll bake her a cake. A special cake! MMmmmm. Cake.

*Isn’t it nice that the Thirtysomething actors are showing up again? I loved that show.
**I haven’t even included in this list HBO shows like The Wire which totally rocks it and Entourage, which single handedly changed my mind about Mark Wahlberg (and holy hell if you aren’t watching them you better start) because I can watch them at any time On Demand. Yes! Kind of like a TiVo!

No, I Never Thought I Could Dance, Really.

Am I the only one that thinks that the freestyle dancing they do on So, You Think You Can Dance? when they are trying to save their assess looks like crap? I just can’t take it seriously. Waving their arms to and fro. They jump high, swoop low and pirouette – with So Much Feeling. The swishing. The tumbling. The fake pulling the sky towards you and then collapsing in a heap? Why?

As a visual artist, you think I might be able to appreciate it more since my art is all about unreserved expression. But, nope. They look like idiots to me. I can totally get behind the couples dancing. The Salsa, Merengue, Quick Step – yes, yes, yes. I love it. My left foot starts shaking to the beat and when I notice and try to keep it still, the next thing I know, my big toe is tapping. I even like the Hip Hop routines. Can’t we just keep all those around and get rid of the freestyle crap? Who do I need to talk to?

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