Thursday, October 30, 2003
HEY MISTER TAMBOURINE MAN, SHUT THE HELL UP!
My column is up on Salon today. In it, I explore such pressing and important topics as Nova's "The Elegant Universe," the California fires, "Survivor," "24," and the "Joe Schmo" finale.
Do I need to remind you again that you can look at one short ad, and then they'll let you read the whole article? Well, I'm reminding you now. Try it, it's really not nearly as difficult as flipping through 20 pages of ads at the front of "Vanity Fair" just to find the Contents page.
I wrote this column in a panicked state at the coffee joint down the street last night. Unfortunately, my writing is better when I'm a little panicked. It also helps when I'm drinking a Chai latté (I'm off the strong stuff again, unbelievably), listening to The Flaming Lips' "Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots," and trying desperately to tune out the crazy lady sitting on a couch across the café, hitting a tambourine over and over and over and over as everyone around her pretends not to hear it. She looks homeless, so no one wants to look like a Nazi by telling her to cut it out already. If she were wearing a clean suit, someone would have told her to fuck off ages ago.
You know, there's tolerance and then there's sheer self-conscious wimpiness. Sadly, I land firmly in the self-conscious wimpy camp, even when I'm running late on a deadline and my whole face is crumpled into a frown and I'm exuding a "stay the fuck away from me" vibe. I have some apologetic affliction in public. People who are unaware of themselves in space, who block sidewalks and slow down to look at something while driving on a busy thoroughfare? They bug me. So I try to stay small, agreeable, and fast. Unless I'm in a shitty mood, and then all bets are off.
Who cares about me, though? Why do I prattle on about me when what you really want to know is: What's wrong with ME, rabbit? What can I do about ME, to change ME, to make ME better? So send me some cries for help, why don't you? Just so you know, my favorite kinds of problems right now are vague, difficult to describe, intangible problems, ones that, when you try to explain them, people think you're being melodramatic and weak. But concrete problems are OK, too. Like, say, you can't rip open the bag in your box of cereal without ripping it down the middle, so that half the cereal is in the box and you're likely to get bugs in there or something. Have you ever poured cereal with bugs in it? I did once about ten years ago and let me tell you, it ain't pretty.
But if your life is perfect, as I recognize many of the rabbit's readers' lives are, then you'll just have to read my stupid column instead, and learn about all the bad TV you're too perfect to waste your time watching.
Monday, October 27, 2003
ANGRY LITTLE SQUIRREL LANDS GREAT BIG JOB!
My friend Carina Chocano just got hired as the L.A. Times' new television critic! Yeay! Carina was the inspiration for the character Veronica The Angry Little Squirrel in Filler, and she also wrote a great book which I link to on this page (scroll down, it's the hot pink thing to the right). Carina was Salon's television critic for years, then left Salon for Entertainment Weekly, which freed Salon up to hire the Angry Little Rabbit, for which the Angry Rabbit is eternally grateful. Now Carina will be taking Howard Rosenberg's place, substituting his rather straightforward reviews with her sharp, funny, imaginative writing. Carina is a really great person and a very talented writer, so be sure to check out her stuff at latimes.com in a week or so.
Saturday, October 25, 2003
PERSONALITY DISORDER OF THE WEEK
Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder
A pervasive pattern of preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, and mental and interpersonal control, at the expense of flexibility, openness, and efficiency, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by four (or more) of the following:
(1) is preoccupied with details, rules, lists, order, organization, or schedules to the extent that the major point of the activity is lost
(2) shows perfectionism that interferes with task completion (e.g., is unable to complete a project because his or her own overly strict standards are not met)
(3) is excessively devoted to work and productivity to the exclusion of leisure activities and friendships (not accounted for by obvious economic necessity)
(4) is overconscientious, scrupulous, and inflexible about matters of morality, ethics, or values (not accounted for by cultural or religious identification)
(5) is unable to discard worn-out or worthless objects even when they have no sentimental value
(6) is reluctant to delegate tasks or to work with others unless they submit to exactly his or her way of doing things
(7) adopts a miserly spending style toward both self and others; money is viewed as something to be hoarded over for future catastrophes
(8) shows rigidity and stubbornness
"Control! Now I've got a lot! Control! I'll get what I want!" - Janet Jackson
In this crazy mixed-up world, what's more adaptive than becoming a control freak? Sure, your friends don't like it that much. But who needs friends when you've got lists, schedules, rules, and countless worn-out or worthless objects?
Are you a control freak? Let's see. Do you have a habit of calling other people control freaks? Yeah? Then, guess what?
I'd love to go into more detail, but I have to go wash my hands six or seven times...
Friday, October 24, 2003
I THOUGHT THERE WAS A VIRTUE TO ALWAYS BEING COOL
But that was decades ago. Now I answer the door in boxers and wife-beaters. It's OK, the Fed Ex guy and the mailman are both getting used to it. At first they flinched a little, when I opened the door sweating, in the middle of a Billy Blanks Taebo workout. And who wouldn't? Can you blame them? Not everyone is familiar with the glory of Sir Billy, and the way he can magically transform this little piggy who goes to the market far too often into a normal-looking human. (You'll note that I wrote "normal-looking human" and not "red hot babe." We don't aim too high around here.)
I've looked good exactly twice in the past month, and both times people were getting married and tender steaks were being served. You don't want to look sallow and unwashed when there's a tender steak on the plate in front of you.
But a tender Fed Ex soldier in front of you? He can take it. He stomachs a diverse freak show each and every day. Putting on street clothes for the Fed Ex guy is like straightening up for the cleaning lady. I don't have a cleaning lady, but I'm just saying. Who gives a shit what the lady who scrubs your toilet thinks about your organizational system? Who cares whether the mailman thinks you're some kind of deranged drug dealer? An endless flow of packages, paired with a highly unprofessional appearance? What else could be the answer?
Onward. We touched on weddings for a moment, and I'd like to mention that I find it surprising what good decisions my friends have made in choosing their spouses. When my parents were young and I was a little snot-nosed mutant child, all of their friends seemed to have incredibly shitty marriages. Was that just the nature of the "Kramer vs. Kramer" seventies? My mom used to disappear into the dining room with her friends, shut the door, and the smell of cigarettes and coffee would come wafting through, punctuated by evil, cackling laughter. They were laughing about what assholes their husbands were. It wasn't any big secret, but I think maybe my mom closed the doors just for show. As if she were remotely discreet about her own marital problems! We kids were in the thick of the fight, like Rickie Schroeder in "The Champ."
Yeah, yeah, that's part of why I'm so screwed up, whatever. I don't think it's the stuff that's on the surface that fucks kids up. I think it's the stuff that your parents won't admit to themselves that really throws a wrench into the machine. Because even wildly dysfunctional people aren't that tough to deal with, as long as you generally know what to expect. If someone is sort of walking you through it: OK, this is bad, but you can try to accept it. What's confusing is being sent mixed messages about yourself and your relationship with your parents. I think a lot of the parents of the '70s embraced really enlightened ideals about raising kids, but their parents were such a mess that they really couldn't put those ideals into action, not without extensive, major life-changing therapy or other sorts of work. So a lot of us were told we could be open with our parents, when in fact they had no interest whatsoever in talking certain types of things through with us. Namely, emotional things. See also: "I'm OK, You're OK... As Long As You Don't Stir The Pot."
But that's OK, I'm sure my generation has a whole new set of afflictions that our kids will blame us for. Like, um, self-involvement, just maybe? Answering the front door in boxer shorts? Blogging about the embarrassing shit your kids do, before they're old enough to censor it?
My kids, if I have them, are going to think I'm the biggest goober. Hell, my dog will probably think I'm a goober. Most dogs do.
Thursday, October 16, 2003
SECURITY SYSTEM OPERATIONAL!
Order is restored to the universe! I have found another home online! Having haunted the back hallways of Salon.com for months now, they've finally given me my own little supply closet, see also: page. A page just for Rabby McRabberson. Just for me, just for the TV glutton that I've become. Isn't it crazy that I'm even employed? I think so. The trickster tricks another online entity into filling its trickster bowl with trickster chow! Zowie!
And you know what this means? This means that it's time for you to subscribe to Salon, because by doing that, you keep the trickster chow flowing. And I know how important that is to you. You promised you would give anyone who gives me money some money, didn't you? Or was that my mom?
Anyway, while I'm here, I might as well tell you a story. Today I was on the set of a sitcom, interviewing some extremely nice sitcom types against my better judgement, really, because I'm at that stage of my cold where I get uncontrollable coughing fits, usually at the exact moment when such a thing might be wildly inconvenient and unsavory. So there I am, high on Dayquil, drinking a steady flow of water, determined to be quiet and to seem world-weary and knowing, as if I've been on a million sitcom sets before and not just, uh, one other one, and a sort of not-so-good one at that. So there I was, standing off stage (thought I was in the crowd with the tourists, did you? Pshaw, I say!), and I was watching a very, very long take, because this is a sitcom staffed by highly seasoned professionals who could do the entire show in one take, if they so pleased, and blam, coughing fit tickle hits the back of my throat like a curse. I run for the wings. I pad around in the wings, desperate, guessing at where the green room might be, tears streaming out of my eyes, snot locked and loaded and ready to flow freely out of my nose. I looked like Ren or Stimpy, whichever one had a cold that one time, you remember, it was seriously disgusting. Miraculously, I find the green room! Saved! I close the door, in order to block out the emphysema-like bellowing cough that's about to thunder out of my throat and -
I ruin the take. With the door. Apparently you don't close doors on sitcom sets, because it makes a loud boom. Someone might've told me this, someone like my handy boyfriend who's been on sitcom sets for nine years and counting. But no. Instead, an angry person came and, this being LA, pretended to be concerned about my apparently deteriorating health for about a second before admonishing me about the door thing, which I actually didn't know until he admonished me, and thank god because with the coughing fit and the shame, I might've sat in the green room waiting for my scolding with much trepidation.
There's really nothing worse than waiting to be scolded. And I was always the kind of goody-goody who never, ever wanted to be scolded, as a kid. When someone scolded me, it was usually a major fucking misunderstanding, and the injustice of the misunderstanding usually made me break down in tears. I didn't like being misunderstood when I was little, and I was very sensitive and very emotional.
Weird, huh? Given what a crusty old bitch I've become.
Anyway, this is how I know I'm an adult now. I took the upbraiding by the manicured and most likely wildly rich producer person in stride. Even though I might've wasted as much money as I make in a year in that one moment (how expensive is 5 minutes of TV footage gone bad?), even though everyone on the set, or at least the directorial-type circle, probably knew that it was the clueless writer person who fucked it all up, the dorky one with the weird un-Hollywood way about her, even though it was all kind of embarrassing and pathetic, I didn't really feel all that embarrassed or pathetic. I didn't even feel misunderstood. I am dorky and clueless and un-Hollywood. But you know, those people are OK. Even the manicured, annoyed, scolding one is fine. They're nice, smart people, in fact. They're normal, good people. They're not even Hollywood, when you get right down to it. They're regular. I mean, I fucked up, sure, I felt bad for a second, but you know, I'm a human being, they're human beings, shit happens. Yes, I took off, because I'm a human time bomb who shouldn't be on a set, but it was fine. And actually, even though they ended up having to redo that same take a bunch of times because that's the way it goes with these things: one person screws up and sets off a domino effect of adversity, it actually turned into a funny thing where the lead characters had to keep kissing, then the show runner gave one lead a dirty joke to tell to purposefully screw up another take, so it was all just one big old good time, which I only knew because I had to get my stuff and wait until the next take was over to leave the stage.
I realize due to the volume of words here that I sound like I'm smitten with the sitcom set thing, and that's not really the point. I avoid tapings like the plague, usually. It's just that, seeing people do something fun for a living is cool sometimes, particularly when they haven't turned into total mutants as a result of having such a fun, nice life. And even when you'll probably never have that certain kind of success that brings big money and lots of power and high-stakes fun with lights and actors, it's nice to see other nice, normal people having landed in good situations, enjoying their lives. I mean, usually I imagine that successful Hollywood people are dysfunctional and odd and probably miserable, to be honest. Power-seekers are not generally my cup of tea. Comfort-seekers, they're my people. But these guys on this set, they're really normal and nice.
Granted, this is not your typical sitcom. Anyway, the point is... um. I really feel good about... You know what? Dayquil makes me a little speedy. I think that's the point. Today, the writing really went well. If this keeps up, I'm going to be the Hunter S. Thompson of Dayquil, the William Burroughs of bright orange cough medicine, tossing that glowing elixir back and breathing clearly and writing really deranged shit about how I'm good enough and smart enough and people like me, or at least I imagine that they do when I'm high as a kite on Dayquil! Dayquil! Nectar of the genius gods! Over the counter! Legal! Bright orange!
Wednesday, October 15, 2003
WEDNESDAY THE RABBIT TOOK OFF
Remember when I said I was busy before? I was lying. I wasn't really busy. I didn't know what it was like to be busy. What did I know of busy? I wasn't remotely busy. I had all the time in the world.
Now I'm busy. I know this because all I do is work and sleep. Sometimes I call and schedule stuff, like interviews and work-related crap, and then I call and cancel other stuff, like doctor's appointments and drinks with friends.
All of this will be explained eventually. Or maybe I won't bother to explain, maybe I'll just write something mildly interesting and skip the dull explanation.
I do have a regular TV column on Salon now (in addition to other duties) called "I Like to Watch." You can read it every Thursday, a day which isn't nearly as good as Wednesday, but you know, you can't always get what you want.
I also have a major head cold, which I think goes rather nicely with way too much work. When I'm interviewing someone over the phone, for example, it's always nice to pause for a second and blow 20 quarts of snot out of my head.
I went to a cool wedding in Pennsylvania last weekend, I will share that with you. There were lots of funny extroverted Jewish people there - my favorite wedding peoples. My boyfriend's mother convinced me to get my hair done with her, and we couldn't resist shellacking our hairstyles with spray glitter for sheer obnoxious effect, and then I stopped and bought body glitter and gold glitter nail polish, thus I ended up looking like the extra-tacky chick in a "Seventeen Magazine" prom spread. Sometimes veering off in a weird tacky style direction is fun. Having no shame helps. Having no shame also comes in handy when dancing to a wedding band's version of "Brick House."
If only I'd had less shame when I heard the guy next to me sniffling on my five-hour flight home, I would've covered my head in Saran Wrap. Instead, here I am. Feeling awful and typing away, type type type, with no relief in sight. Sometimes being a writer is very easy. Other times, like when you have a cold and several deadlines, it's very very difficult.
But I can't complain. Things have been going very well around here, hacking coughs aside. Thank you for your patience, kittens. You will be rewarded for your patience soon, when normal, idle rabbit is back, full of her usual dumb stories and pointless digressions.
Wednesday, October 01, 2003
DRUNK ASSHOLES PICK A WINNER!
Interviewed Dave of Drunky Hotel yesterday. It was fun! He seems like a really nice guy.
I'm pumped for tonight's finale, needless to say. Right now I suspect that Mr. Dreamy and Superstar Char Barbie won it all, but you never know. If Scott and Holly take the prize, I'll vomit all over myself.
SHE'S DRESSED IN YELLOW, SHE SAYS HELLO!
After all that talk of meatballs, I didn't even eat at the reunion, and chose instead to dance to ridiculous songs, and to catch up with this old friend I was in a band with, plus a few other mathematical geniuses who dared to show up. Also, there were my close friends, whom I convinced to come with me despite their reservations. Overall, though, there weren't too many people there, and many of my old acquaintances who lived in town didn't show up, apparently because they had something called "Supper Club," which sounds frighteningly white to me. So basically, they chose to eat meatloaf at their neighbors' houses, neighbors they see every single week at least, instead of hanging out with long lost acquaintances they haven't seen in 15 years, or at least since the 10-year reunion. I don't get it, but then, I'm an outspoken advocate of the reunion, and maybe my heart is on fire for reuniting to the extent that smoke gets in my eyes.
Truth be told, as great as it was to hang out with them, I felt a little guilty for convincing my friends to fly across the country for the event. It wasn't exactly groundbreaking and spectacular. But, in the long run, I think they'll remember the weekend and think that it was a good thing for them to do, if only to gain perspective on their lives now. And it's important to honor the past, even if you fucking hated it. I mean, we put in our time together in Durham, and talked about high school, and that brings that part of our lives back to life for a while. Otherwise, I don't think about high school or talk about it that much, which is, I suppose, healthy. But it's good to remember it, because it has a lot to do with who I am now. And I fucking rule.
Ah, well, everyone experiences the past in different ways. Who am I to say what anyone else went through back then, or how they should feel about it now? But don't think for a second that I'm letting those Supper Club motherfuckers off the hook. No fucking way.
The most absurd part of the night had to be when I urged my classmates, "Make sure everyone comes to the 20-year reunion, OK?!!"
special pillow: Who are you? I don't even know you anymore!
rabbit: Come on, I was just trying to rally them so that the next reunion wouldn't totally suck-ass.
special pillow: You're freaking me out. What happened? How did you get here?
rabbit: Look, I haven't changed. In fact, everyone at the reunion said I was exactly the same as I was in high school!
special pillow: Are you kidding me? That's fucking pathetic!
rabbit: No it's not!
special pillow: Yes it is! They're saying you're still a huge fucking dork!
rabbit: Oh. I thought they just meant that I looked young.
special pillow: You're delusional!
rabbit: I don't know, I feel pretty good, actually.
special pillow: I know, that's what's bothering me! You should feel depressed.
rabbit: Speak for yourself, you worthless little prop!
special pillow: Ah, now that's more like it.