Why have 10,000 things to do when you can have 10,001 things to do? Beginning August 10th, I'll be recapping The N's South of Nowhere with Carlytron on Auto-Straddle. ["Chase," your attendance is expected. All other NYC-area quasi-lesbian-television-watchers, your attendance is appreciated.] Go to Auto-Straddle for more info on this project, which ideally will take 85% less time than The L Word recaps, otherwise I'll be spending massive amounts of time indoors during my favorite season, autumn, which is significantly more depressing than being trapped by "Papi's Rules of Poker" while winter and its associated discontents rage outside my dark, dark window. Cause I can't be like "Well, who wants to be out there in the blizzard anyhow?" I'll just be like "Lets go play in the leaves and pick pumpkins! I mean, make screencaps!"
I miss Michigan in the fall. There were always nice leaves and apples, pumpkins, etc. Also, back then, I looked forward to my birthday as each passing year brought me one step closer to additional life privileges. Now I'm like: "Ew. Gross." Or, rather, "What if, for my 25th birthday, I went to Nation and kissed 25 girls ?!" [Haviland's idea, obvs. Holla!] I was clearly really excited about being allowed to rent cars. Also, sidenote: I've matured so much since then. For example, the idea of kissing 26 girls on my 26th birthday is totally unappealing. And, because Nation is Nation, it'd be the same girls, probs. I just want to put this out there: I would like to go to Chuckie Cheese's this year and kiss 25 Skee-Balls. Okay. Feel free to coordinate a planning committee to deliver on this deliverable ASAP [It is a constant struggle to not constantly bust out in HR-speak right now, as I've been doing a lot of HR copywriting over the past week. And should be doing more. Right now.]
ii. The Reading at the KGB Bar.
So, Tuesday night, I did this reading for this book I'm in called "The Bigger, The Better, The Tighter the Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image, and Other Hazards of Being Female." I sat in the back with Cameron and Krista & Pete, and couldn't see anyone, which's funny, because it's an anthology about beauty and body image and I was really honestly curious to match physical selves to writings-about-physical-selves but could not, for the life of me, see through the masses to the readers at the podium.
Howevs, the essays were even funnier out loud, even if coming from ghost voices, and afterwards, a lot of people said nice things to me, and I signed some books [SURREAL!], and verified my social-interaction disability by being like "I thought you were gonna read!" to the editor of the anthology, who actually DID read, and I remember LOLing, but I didn't know it was her, because I couldn't see. I honestly was paying attention, laughing out loud, enjoying all the works. Also I honestly loved her essay in the book, which I actually read. [seriously.]
iii. Another Reading.
If you missed it, here's a surprising chance to redeem yourself: I'm going to be reading something [seriously, I have no idea what and probably won't until approx. an hour beforehand, drunk, and late] at the Young Artists' Lounge at 365 Days/365 Plays, which I was invited to do by the lovely Jaime/Surplus. Once, there was this GLBT blogger gathering Curly McDimple put together, and when Curly asked if I knew any other queer bloggers to invite, I suggested Jaime even though she's not a lesbian. That was one of the highlights of my career/bad habit in bloggetry.
iv. Chronologically, we are now returning to Tuesday night, the night of The Reading at the KGB Bar.
Afterwards: Carlytron missed the next train to Jersey, Borders was closed, and thus, we settled to do a few laps around the squares loosely defined as Manhattan's Inferno (Penn Station and it's environs). It was, actually, a perfectly temperate night, though the streets were cluttered with kids heading back to various pockets of Jersey to upload their new city-outing SUMMER BREAK '07 photos to facebook ...
Carly: "I love television, and I'm not ashamed to admit it."
Me [genuine]: "I admire that."
And then I thought about writing this segment, and how it is, indeed, frowned/scowled upon to say: "I learned stuff from the TV!" because on so many levels, especially for children, it's a damaging, world-destroying medium. But it's not, often, the shows themselves that are inherently damaging as it is the way in which they're presented and scheduled and often surrounded by/infused with advertising, bizarre promos, randomly inserted news clips, etc. [I've already talked about this like, 100 times, don't worry, I'm stopping. No rants against the miserable state of the universe today. Happiness! Light!]
I thought, maybe I should do "What I Learned From Books," just to be sure I'm still smart. Then I was like, oh, BFD, um, I learned EVERYTHING from books. That's like writing "What Nutrients I've Consumed From Food!" Then I felt better about myself because I put everything into perspective. But also: I realized I am not smart.
Like this is where I learned things:
The Real World:
On The Real World I learned that pretty girls get their hearts broken, too. I was plagued with fairly severe Insecurity as a pre-teen, and remained convinced well into my teens that all circumstances surrounding my "love life" (my term, then), popularity, ability to make friends and overall success in Middle School were directly correlated to my [real or imagined] decline in physical attractiveness. Somehow, seeing the pretty girls on that show get rejected or be subject to adversity, I was like, Oh, pretty girls have bad things happen, too. Pretty girls are not happy, either.
It was validation, in a way, our first example of how "real" people "lived" in a visual sense. We've always been able to read about the lives of others, but those are controlled narratives--controlled, generally, by the writer themselves. [Like this! Holla!] But this show was different ... it was all the worst bits of us clashed against other bad bits of other sorta-good people and then sliced together like intersecting razorblades, an ingenious social experiment. I mean, seriously, you pick seven strangers to live in a house together: the naive Midwesterner, the tattooed rebel, the Angry Black Man, the moody spoiled musician, the beautiful ambitionless blondes ... this was before the Internet, even, before it was easy enough for a gay man in Idaho to discover there were other gay men in the world just by turning on his PC.
It was before ignorance became criminal rather than circumstantial.
Now we're over it; practiced, complacent, numb. But once upon a time, it felt like people were getting real: like a sophisticated voyeurism, one which transcended the narrative determined by the specified scope of a documentary film or TV program, because it had no purpose besides the immediate validity of everyday life. Now it's The Real World: Gammorha. It's like they just pick people who're likely to get drunk and make out in a hot tub. Is that actually interesting? I can't sit through it. The people get less and less interesting, more clear-skinned, hornier, drunker, less "real." [If they are real, that sucks, I quit.]
Of course, I woulda loved to see what it's like to have a conversation with a stranger surrounding by television cameras and a boom -- I think it's the people around them who actually prevented "reality." The person being followed by the camera, unable to acknowledge it's existence, incorporates it into reality eventually. But to those who are not around it and suddenly become so, their actions are, if anything, the opposite of real.
Also that parody they did of it on Dave Chapelle was like, one of the top 10 comedy sketches ever.
Also, I loved Jacinda. She was like fluffy candy packed together in the shape of a pretty girl in a shimmery scarf. I also loved Dan in Miami and Norm from New York. Elka was beautiful and I cried my eyes out when she went to visit her mother's grave. When Tami got an abortion in LA, I was like, note to self: do not get preggers.
We got addicted to London and wanted to be on it, wanted to live in London with an edgy boyfriend like Neil. Wanted to be Jacinda, god, wanted to be Jacinda, wanted to sleep with Jacinda, wake up with Jacinda and her cute accent. Would've given anything. I thought about London all the time, when I wasn't thinking about New York, or what'd it be like to die. I liked that it was rainy all the time, even. I plotted my escape constantly.
Boston was my favorite season. I think Genesis was the first femme lesbian I ever knew of, really. Remember how that guy's girlfriend's name was TIMBER? I'm gonna name my first daughter TIMBER and then have another kid and name it PAUL BUNYAN.
Reality TV was like what we had before the Internet to see what it was like to be someone else when not reading a script, and a way to see it immediately, beamed into your space, in a way books can't be because you have to go out of your space to retrieve it, and then select it. The TV comes to you when you want it, and I feel often that's more of an effect on it's appeal than anything about visuals. Because clearly people can and do read, we read voraciously online. We read online because we're used to television: to getting the exact content we want without getting off our lazy butts. Actually my butt is not lazy, so really I'm talking about most people, not special people like me.
Here's an example from my screenplay, "High on Life," a thinly veiled dramatization of the actual relationship between a boy I had a crush on and a girl I had a crush on. He was "troubled": did drugs, skipped class, etc. His girlfriend didn't know how to help him. Life is rough for upper middle class white kids in cushy liberal Midwestern college towns, you know?
EXCERPT FROM 'HIGH ON LIFE,' MOST EXCELLENT SCREENPLAY AND BY THAT I MEAN MOST TERRIBLE, COPYRIGHT REE-REE 1996
MRS. MEIR: How do you think Ismene feels? Heather?
HEATHER: I don't know. Scared?
MRS. MIER: Sort of ... Anna?
ANNA: She kind of feels like, helpless. She knows what's gonna happen to Antigone--but it's like, she can't do anything, or talk to anyone about it, 'cause no one can find out about it.
Even Kyle is quiet now. Everyone is listening. Her friends understand what she's really talking about.
ANNA: Because if someone found out, she knows that'd be like a death sentence for her sister, and she loves her sister a lot and doesn't want her to get into trouble. But her sister is just being so--stupid! She doesn't understand the consequences--well, she knows them, she just doesn't think they like, apply to her. She thinks that it'll be okay, that it's worth it. And Ismene just has to stand by ... and watch her sister go down.
MRS. MEIR: Excellent Anna, excellent.
There is silence in the classroom.
My So-Called Life also used Our Town beautifully; it still makes me cry sort of. And it was when my BFF and I were on the outs, and we'd been in Our Town together, I was the stage manager and she was Mrs. Soames.
I used to wish I was a gay man. I don't know why, really. I think I just liked their style. I'd get jealous if I watched movies or TV shows about gay guys because it'd just make me wish I was one, and I couldn't be, which's totes annoying.
I know I'd find Brian Kinney less hot if he was straight, I'd find that dance scene ending Season One less romantic, less Top-Ten-Best-Scenes-Ever-Worthy. In fact, I'd probs find him chauvinistic and unkind, but it's so much different without the inherent power dynamics of heterosexual relationships, the centuries of unkindness between the sexes that erupt under the lights of a relationship, no matter how brief. [Disclaimer: I don't think I'm right or anyone else should think this. It's just how I feel about it. Today.]
Queer sex is hot. Maybe it's 'cause we're bombarded with so much explicit heterosexual imagery that I've become numb and bored of it, maybe it's that I've just come to find the process of creating sexual energy without the inherent biological puzzle-pieces offered by man/woman much more compelling, but given the choice, I'd hands down totes prefer to watch a man-on-man sex scene than a woman-on-man sex scene. It's transgression; it's deviation, it's Tina's special secret club and it's back rooms and it's largely unexploited at this point, if you don't seek it out.
Or, even if you do: it's paltry, it's insufficient, it's the tip of ten thousand superior icebergs.
Or else it's just hot, that's all. It's still fun and fresh, which's rare on teevee now.
When I watched QAF I didn't want to date Brian Kinney. I wanted to be a boy and date Brian Kinney. I was about to write: "He'd probably break my heart," but no one ever thinks that'll be them, that guy with the broken heart, right? You're going to change Brian Kinney. You'll be the one to break Jordan Catalano or Shane or Brian Kinney right open; and you can't do that simply by getting them literally naked, because we all know they'll do that for anyone. Maybe that willingness for physical revelation is what makes the illusive, walled-off interior so much more appealing. It's our least logical, most destructive selves that convinces us to pine for hearts like Brian Kinney's: hearts fit for deviant art.
But maybe that should be enough? Just the company, sans expectation.
"We are gasping, quiet, in the dark, and then the wash of violet and night tornadoes through my legs and up behind my eyes, plumbs and spirals my spine, and I know if I can keep feeling like this I'll be okay, if I can feel like this I'm not dead, I won't die. Life is sad. Here is someone."
(Lorrie Moore, Anagrams)
life is sad. here is someone.
But no one ever really changes, not for long, right? You can't change people. But people change me all the time. I think that's because I don't know who I am, or, maybe, because I don't like who I am a lot of the time -- otherwise I'd be more firm, probs, about keeping myself intact. Consequently, I tend to think I can change people, too. Don't we all want to get better? As people? I mean, isn't that the point?
Isn't that why we tell these stories? Because we like character development? We want to see people develop? Evolve? We are static, physically, glued to couches to watch stories which're all, really, transformation stories, and then we're hopeful that one day we, too, will break into blossom, will resolve the disaparity between our faltering egos and our wild, ambitious capes, flapping aimlessly behind us while we fly blindly, straining away? I still believe that--dumbly or because I have to in order to go on--that we can and will change, that we want to get along, that we're not stubborn, judgmental, stagnant, that we want to make each other happy. That we've not become too self-centered as a human species to ever truly create relationships of all kinds with other humans, to be selfless, to believe in the radical idea that someone else might have a better idea, that judgment is tricky business because everything's relative ...
I didn't learn that on teevee. I just made it up.