Better a Witty Fool than a Foolish Wit

Inner Workings of My Twisted Mind.

Cult of Buffy

I’m a little obsessed with the Buffy musical at the moment.  I was avidly opposed to the T.V. show Buffy the Vampire Slayer for years.  I loved the cheese-tastic movie which debuted in the early 90s (and starred the boy of my pre-teen dreams, Luke Perry).  Then the T.V. show debuted and was nothing like the move and I hated it.  In all honesty, I didn’t get it.  I didn’t get that it was supposed to be campy.  I also didn’t get that there was philosophy behind it.

Basically, two years ago I read a book called Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Philosophy, where real Doctors of Philosophy talked about Kantian Morality in Buffy, talked about the allegory of High School as Horror, talked about the weird diegetic world of Buffy and how aware the characters are of their status as characters on a show.

Now, in season six of Buffy, there was an amazing episode entitled Once More, With Feeling.  It’s this total broadway nerd’s dream come true, a demon comes to town and people start breaking into choreographed song and dance numbers.  It’s like Enchanted, but not so fairy tale-esque.  Basically, Joss Whedon (god of nerd world) wrote this amazing hour long musical that drove the story arc of season six forward while being a great musical, and working like a good musical does (i.e. the songs move the story forward).  It’s self-aware of it’s ridiculousness and the characters are more than a little disturbed by the fact that they keep randomly breaking into song (wouldn’t you be?)

They played the Buffy Musical at comic-con; it was the closing ceremony, so-to-speak.  And it was like watching the Rocky Horror Picture Show at a midnight movie.  People sang along, waved parking tickets, copied the Grrr Arrrgh at the end of the episode, they jeered at Dawn, and cat called when Buffy and Spike finally make out at the end.  Basically, it’s every dork’s wet dream: vampires, musicals, hot girls, lesbians, and a tap dancing demon.

I have admitted this to the two people I sneered at when I was first introduced to the musical four years ago and now I’m admitting it publicly…it rocks.  I concede, the Buffy Musical is one of the greatest things to happen to television.

Peace, Love and Dancing Vampires,
Julia

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August 6, 2008 Posted by | Comedy, Comics, Gay/Lesbian, Hollywood, Television | Leave a comment

Why I Love T.V.

At this trying time, post-writers strike, when we are still, for the most part, patiently waiting for our beloved shows to come back, it is easy to forget why we love t.v. so much.  We watch American Idol and reruns of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in order to get by, but really we don’t feel that magic of T.V. that certain shows give.  Do you remember the first show you really truly fell in love with?  Like you just loved the characters so much, you felt like you really knew them.  Maybe it was All in the Family or Happy Days, maybe it was Dallas or Dynasty, maybe it was Beverly Hills 90210 or Friends, in any case, I’m sure all of you, even those that say they don’t love t.v. (mom) have a show that you really loved at some point, a show you didn’t miss and a show that you were sad about it ending.  

For me that has happened numerous times.  I love television, both good and bad (I’m big enough to see that there’s a place for good t.v. and bad t.v.), but every once in a while a show comes along that jumps out above and beyond just a passing liking of a show.  Every once in a while I get a Friends or a 90210, a Dawson’s Creek or a Veronica Mars, a show that combines true life with fiction seamlessly, that makes me laugh and cry.  I’ll let you in on a secret I’m loath to share, the shows I love almost always have an epic romance.  They almost always have the Ross and Rachel, Pacey and Joey (that was the real romance of that show), Veronica and Logan kind of relationships.  I am a sucker for romance on screen, in my real life I can’t stand it, but on screen I love it.  
Over the course of the strike, I’ve been trying to find some way to cope with a lack of scripted television (seeing as I can’t stand most reality t.v. it has been a tough couple of months for me), so the other day I decided to give a show a try that had been recommended to me over and over again.  Yes, I’ve finally really given The Office a shot.  I think I was originally turned off by it because I tend to not think that Steve Carrell is as funny as everyone else does.  I mean, I think he’s funny, just not as funny as everyone else thinks he is.  It really comes down to romance, why I even gave it a try, or rather it really came down to Pam and Jim, why I gave it a try.  Like I said, I’m a big fan of romance, and it actually pains me to know that I’m missing out on a great romantic story arc that people talk about and I can’t contribute anything.  I’m aware that this is totally crazy, that I feel like I must watch a show to not feel left out, but I can’t help it. 
So yeah, I have fallen completely in love with The Office (and John Krasinski) because really, it’s got that thing that great shows have.  It has flawed (and sometimes completely ridiculous) but lovable characters.  It’s got simple but intriguing story lines that come from an organic place within the characters situations.  And, like the best comedies, it doesn’t really have a plot.  The problem with most comedies today is that they are too high concept; the best comedies, like Seinfeld, Friends, All in the Family, and Cheers are very low concept.  Seinfeld: show about nothing, Friends:  Six friends, All in the Family: a dysfunctional Family (Arrested Development also does this well), Cheers: people in a bar.  There really aren’t any stories that need to be told because of the concept of the show.  Unlike, recently, shows like Carpoolers or Cavemen or How I Met Your Mother or Two and a Half Men.  The fact that these shows have complex plot lines means that there is less time to be funny.  Leave the complex plots to Lost and let the situation and characters be funny.  The Office (and yes, the British version is still amazing) is simple (it’s about people in an office), it’s funny (characters are funny and get themselves into funny situations) and it’s relatable (who hasn’t worked in an office like Dunder-Mifflin or had a boss like Michael Scott?).  The basic tenet of comedy is to hire funny people and give them a forum to be funny but also to tug the heartstrings when need be.  Who didn’t tear up when Ross and Rachel broke up?  Who didn’t crack up when Sammy Davis kissed Archie Bunker?  It’s the line between these two things that make comedy great and memorable, and it is these things that launch the classic shows into posterity.
Peace, Love, and The Office,
Julia  

April 4, 2008 Posted by | Comedy, Culture, Friends, Hollywood, Television, Veronica Mars | 1 Comment

I’ll Be There for You

I’m having a little love affair with Friends right now.  You remember it, television show, defined the ’90s, last truly great sitcom.  Okay, we’re all together now.  Friends started in 1994, when I was the ripe old age of 10 (hadn’t quite turned 11 yet) and I vaguely remember it from then, though didn’t watch it.  I remember seeing the episode where Ross’ monkey can’t stop humping everything in sight (the first episode of Friends I ever watched), but I didn’t actually start watching Friends until I got a T.V. of my very own in the eighth grade (that would have been the Christmas of 1996).  I credit the acquiring of my very own television as the root of my love of t.v.  I had loved certain shows before, but I only watch three of them during the week (for those who are curious that would be 90210, The Simpsons, and Party of Five).  When I got my own t.v. the world was my cable box and I could watch t.v. all evening while doing copious amounts of homework.  This is when I started watching Must See T.V.  Ah, remember when NBC was putting out quality programming that didn’t involve Donald Trump or Howie Mandel?  I may have been the only person that watched nothing but NBC.  By this time my 90210 obsession had petered out and my WB obsession had not yet started, so I was strictly an NBC girl.  And Friends was the centerpiece of the week.  Thursday night was amazing.  Friends, Seinfeld, Mad About You, Will & Grace, Just Shoot Me, all staples of the Thursday Night line-up at some point in it’s amazing run.

I remember when Friends ended in 2004, I was living in London and I watched the series finale and cried like a baby (even though it was crappy).  I distinctly remember a conversation with Jewels where we realized that Friends had been on for exactly half of our lifetime.  It was surreal to think that, especially at age 20, when we felt so old (don’t yell, we did feel old).

But I realize now that I never really understood Friends.  It’s all part of this crazy post-collegiate world that I’m sorting through right now, but I’ve been watching Friends and relating to the characters in a way that I never have before.  When I was in High School and even college and watching Friends, it never occurred to me that this show had actually a basis in dealing with real stuff that people were actually going through.  Oh, how wrong I was.  Now, I’m not saying that Monica and Rachel’s apartment is, in any way, like any apartment that a waitress and a chef could actually afford, especially in New York City, especially now, but that’s not the point.  Because I hadn’t experienced that part of your twenties when you are a totally independent person, I never got that, though humorous, these were the things the early (read good) episodes of friends were dealing with.  Around your mid-twenties, when, in this age, you are still trying to figure out what you’re going to do with your life (Rachel and Chandler), trying to be successful at what you’ve chosen (Monica and Joey), trying to live your life on your own terms (Phoebe) or are starting in your adult life with things like marriage and babies (Ross), people experience a great amount of change and hardship, and Friends deals with that, and I never even knew.

I feel more and more bonded to characters like Rachel, Joey and Phoebe, who have no money and are either searching for what they want to do or trying to live the life they’ve chosen, whereas before I felt like more of a Ross or Chandler.  I mean, sure, I’m sarcastic and witty to hide the pain (much like Chandler Bing) but Joey’s a struggling actor who doesn’t give up, no matter how many rejections he gets.  I guess that is what makes a television show great.  Much like My So-Called Life or Freaks and Geeks, it doesn’t matter what generation watches these programs, if you are in High School, you relate.  Sure the clothes are a little dated, but really, who hasn’t felt those universal highs and lows that are outlined in a smartly written television show.

Some lines from Friends that were always funny, but I never really got:
“Who’s FICA, why’s he getting all my money?”  – Rachel Green

“Phoebe, do you have a plan?” – Monica Gellar
“I don’t even have a pluh.” – Phoebe Buffay

“Hey, you guys in the living room all know what you want to do. You know, you have goals. You have dreams. I don’t have a dream.” – Chandler

And my favorite:
” What are you doing?” – Ross Gellar
“Making chocolate milk. You want some?” – Chandler Bing
“No thanks, I’m 29.” – Ross Gellar

Peace, Love, and the Correct Number of Claps,
Julia

March 23, 2008 Posted by | Comedy, Culture, Friends, High School, Hollywood, My So-Called Life, Television | 1 Comment

My Favorite Blog

Alright I have this new favorite blog and it’s pretty much the funniest thing ever.  It’s calledStuff White People Like and it’s freaking amazing.  Basically, it’s a blog that makes fun of the ridiculousness that is white people…or more specifically middle class to upper class white people.  It is under the guise of an anthropological study of white people and what makes them tick, and the thing of it is that it’s so completely right on it makes you laugh out loud while saying, I totally do that.  Everything from Outdoor Performance Clothes to Yoga are encompassed in this amazing study of white culture.  

This is everything a blog should be.  It’s funny, irreverent, and completely pointless.  Or is it pointless?  Isn’t it important to point out the ridiculousness of certain subsets of humanity?  Are blogs meant to be pointless?  Are they meant to be serious and interesting all the time?  
I wrote a blog about blogging on the booksoup blog the other day (wow, I think that’s the record for the most usages of the word blog in a single sentence), and I basically came to no conclusions about blogs.  What is the point of blogging?  Is it to make us known as writers, maybe someday we too can win an oscar and wear a leopard print dress and lots of awesome tattoos to Hollywood’s hottest night?  Is it to exist in the world of cyberspace (or whatever term we are using now), and thus exist in the world?  Whatever the reason, blogging does provide much needed entertainment in the infinite blog soup of people talking about their usually mundane lives (and I’m not taking myself out of this equation).  
Again, I am not going to come to any conclusions on blogging, but I will say this: much like film and books and t.v. we need both comedy and drama, both real and ironic blogs, and Stuff White People Like is the best of comedic irony, without being too much like a bad t.v. sitcom.  
Peace, Love, and Blogging about Blogging,
Julia

March 21, 2008 Posted by | Awards Shows, Blogroll, Comedy, Computers, Culture, internet | 1 Comment

Change and the Art of the Seventies

So a little while ago I wrote about how great it was to grow up in the’90s, and I still hold that belief, but last night I worked a bookrelease of a book called Comedy at the Edge about how comedy (as wellas other things) completely changed America in the 1970s.  I’m ayoung’n so I sometimes forget how big of a changing decade theseventies was.  I mean, the sixties had free speech and vietnamprotests, and women’s rights and all that stuff, but in the seventiesit went from being radical movements to being practiced in life, andComedy was a facet of this.  Think about it, you had people like SteveMartin, Albert Brooks, George Carlin, Jerry Seinfeld, etc. etc. etc.all talking about the social injustices, sexual politics, politicalclimate of the time and they ended up going on t.v. shows likeSaturday Night Live (remember when it was funny?)I’ve been kind of thinking about the seventies a lot.  And I actuallyhave a big question to pose, seeing as many of you lived through theseventies.  Does right now feel at all the same?  I feel like America,and the world, is in a huge period of change and I sometimes getcaught up in that, so much so that it’s hard to breathe.  I guess I’mjust wondering if the change that you all went through in theseventies feels at all the same as the change we’re going through now? Did it feel then, like it does now?   Did it feel like you might bethe last generation to see the world as it is?  Did it feel like anysort of safety net had been completely ripped out from under you?  Ordoes it feel exactly the same, and am I having a quarterlife crisis?So this is my first just flat out question.  If anyone has an answeror a theory, let me know.  I love hearing your thoughts and I’ll beback to writing my normal critiques on the craziness of modernAmerican society in a few days.Peace, Love and Change,Julia

March 6, 2008 Posted by | Comedy, Culture, Environment | Leave a comment