I like to watch too much

gaping maw of farrah When normal people have to do something, they do it.

When type-A people have to do something, they do it...and blog about it.

Introducing My TV-Free Year, a long, long, long overdue effort.

Officially launching on October 23. Countdown already in progress...

xxx c

UPDATE 2/14/16: URL & site content long gone. Excelsior!

"Gaping Maw of Farrah" mashup = farrah_logan (by ambientfusion) + Gaping Maw of Disney (by libraryman), all via Flickr and all released under a Creative Commons by-nc-sa 2.0 license.

Me, as punchline

gross photo The Nightline piece aired last night.

As usual, more TV-hooey, the trumped-up gist of which was that brides today want to be photographed like hoors on their wedding day, probably because, as one photog (not mine) put it, "It's the best they'll ever look in their lives."

Me? I feel the same way about posing in the altogether as I do in a branded piece of clothing: you wanna shoot me like a whore, I wanna get paid like one, brother.

Regardless of how stupid the segment was, it was a nice reminder of what great pictures he took.

Too bad the marriage didn't...

xxx c

Photo in background of me in the hotel bathroom on my wedding day, applying mascara (probably bought specially for the occasion because I didn't own any) by brilliant wedding photographer Steven E. Gross.

Blow up your TV

When you calibrate your afternoon not by the subtle changes in the play of light through your office window but by the shifting of the shrill Judge Judy into the 'shucks, ma'am' sucker punch or Dr. Phil...

When you feel your ire rise as basket-base-football cuts into The Simpsons and back-to-back repeats of King of the Hill...

When your evenings are filled with the wall-to-wall hum of America's Next Top Apprentice to the Surviving Bachelor

When you have seen every episode of every Law & Order in all three franchises at least twice

When you can spot the new edits to accommodate additional commercials in Columbo and the Quinn-Martin ouevre and anything that used to be on HBO

When you let your sister and your clients and your best friend since high school (in town for three days only) go straight to voicemail because Ryan is announcing the Bottom Three

When you cannot remember the last time you spent a day without television

Maybe it's time to spend a day without television.

Maybe it's time to spend seven of them.

A whole week doing something else One day at a time. (With Bonnie Franklin and Valerie Bertinelli.)

Besides, there's always TiVO...

xxx c

TV is my friend

I don't have a copy of Harriet the Spy handy, but to wildly paraphrase Ole Golly, TV is the perfect thing to do while you're doing something else. Since the "else" right now is tax prep and other boring-ish stuff, a little crappy TV really hits the spot.

I'm getting a little weary of the actual "American Idol" contestants (yaaaawn) but the freakish antics of Randy, Paula, Simon and teeny-tiny Ryan Seacrest are proving most entertaining. Even more (and definitely more intentionally) hilarious is the blow-by-blow recap on television without pity. As I told The Boyfriend, I don't know whether to kiss or curse you for sending me the link; just see if you can stop reading last week's 20pp treatise. G'wan...first taste is free.

xxx c

P.S. The fiery trainwreck a.k.a. "Chasing Farrah" on tonight (Nick/10PT). I cannot WAIT to do my taxes...

Fat Actress

Proof that hilarity flows from the top down, Fat Actress is loaded with very funny people (Rachael Harris, Mike McDonald, guests like Mark Curry, even Kirstie Alley herself, once upon a time) who manage to be about as funny as the omelette pan soaking in my sink. So what happened?

Hubris + money + a whole lot of people agreeing that the emporer's fanny looks great in those Prada pants = thirty minutes of not just winking at the joke, but pummeling it into unrecognition with the obvious stick. It's the saddest, most desperately unfunny thing it's been my displeasure to watch for some time. I've got a little thing about wasted potential, you see, and this show is throwing it out the window by the bucketful. Sad, sad, sad.

I don't know why Showtime would elect to air the egregious wrong that is Fat Actress for free on Yahoo! TV; it can't possibly be to gain subscribers. Maybe this is all an elaborate set-up to be aired on Punk'd. Oh, wait, wrong network.

Anyway, thanks to Gawker for the heads up and the link.

I think...

xxx c

(Felix and) Oscar

Somewhere back in the 1980's, someone shanghai'd my Oscars® and turned them into a who-cares fest. At least, that's all I can think after (half-)watching 3+ hours of Hollywood crapping all over the Kodak Theater last night. For too long now, the only thing fun about the Academy Awards® has been the parties, and I think that sentiment goes double for those unfortunates sitting captive in the audience. Most of them look like they'd prefer gum surgery over being stuck in a big red candy box watching Josh Groban rip it up with Beyoncé. At least the periodontist offers high-quality intoxicants.

Do yourself a favor and quit trying to be hip. You can't: the hip train has moved on; it no longer stops at network stations. Either move the whole shebang to HBO and let the freaks run the show or go back to the old-school faux glam that you do better than anyone.

But whatever you do, for chrissakes, 86 the "creative" award presentation. The humiliation of receiving an award at one's seat is exceeded only by not receiving one on the stage with the rest of the nominees.

My vote? Pull the plug on the whole free-televised thing, put it back in a big restaurant, serve shitloads of booze and make it a pay-per-view event. The farther Oscar® gets away from his closed, dinner-and-booze-fiesta roots, the more he acts like Felix: precious, overly-organized and about as much fun as watching glittery, registered-trademark paint dry.

xxx c

Alive vs. living

Let me state right up front that I am not anti-television. The fact that I was cable-free for five years post-divorce had more to do with my crack-like addition to television than any moral stance against or disdain for the medium. I just assumed that if more than two and a half channels were viewable on my TV set, I'd do little else save watch it. The good news? I know myself really, really well. The bad news? I know myself really, really well. Of course, I am now justifying my increased television viewing with my newfound desire to transform #1 & #2, the stage play (with music!) that I wrote with my partner, L.A. Jan, into a television series, a desire born out of a dream to tell our truth to the widest possible audience with the greatest possible efficiency. (When you're perpetually zonked by chronic illness, you quickly attune yourself to the fine art of maximizing efficiency.)

Given that dream, logic would dictate that, in addition to re-familiarizing myself with the medium as a consumer, I'd also be angling to learn the business from the inside out: i.e., getting a staff job on an existing television show. Any television show.

Only I'm not. And neither is Jan. And if we were on the fence about it before, which maybe I was, since, let's face it, TV is a really well-paying gig and I really understand the freedom that money provides, all it took was one day in the Quaalude of a sitcom spec-writing class we're taking to convince me that writing on someone else's show is not something I can pursue with the laser-like focus one needs to in order to obtain such a cush gig.

Again, please understand: I am no TV snob. I both love my TV, free, basic and premium, and I fully recognize and honor the very real skills required to write for a pre-existing show. I can even understand how it might be fun...sometimes. After all, in addition to fat residual checks, you're surrounded by smart, funny people all day and usually, there's really good lunch. It's a lot like advertising used to be back in the 1980's, only you're writing the stuff in between the commercials instead of the commercials themselves.

But it's just not me; I was in advertising (which I fell into and then fell asleep in) and that wasn't me, either. Writing copy and shooting commercials, even great copy and terrific commercials, felt like a simulacrum of the life I was supposed to lead, like being alive, versus really living.

If I fell into it, if I was plucked from amongst millions, if the smoked glass window of the limo rolled down and a long, well-manicured finger pointed at me me me to be lifted from obscurity to the high-profile, well-heeled life of a sitcom writer, well, hell, yeah, I'd do it. For a while, anyway. I may be crazy, but I'm not nuts.

But as for what I'll hurl myself into? What I'll go out on a limb for, contort myself for, put away childish things for? I'm afraid that for me, I'm looking at the big, nasty enchilada: my Truth. And it's all, in this case, the creation of my own work, saleable or not, or nothing. You're in or you're out. Live free or die.

Because that soporific sitcom spec-writing class? It now follows hard on the heels of a pilot-writing class, the most kick-ass, off-the-charts-caffeinated class it's been my pleasure to take for a long, long time. Same teacher, same room, totally different vibe. We're a ragtag crew, this small mess of us with dreams of disseminating our dreams, but we are plugged into the juice and we will not take "no" for an answer. And man, oh, man, is that ever exciting to be around.

Will we all make it? Doubtful. Will any of us make it? Hard to say. The odds are certainly against us; each of us, I'm sure, has had no end of helpful advisors telling us that our time would be better spent traversing the traditional routes. But that's not for us: the few...the proud...the insane. Keep your overhead low and your sights sky-high.

I may never again know what it's like to stay in a great hotel or sign a mortgage stub or even order off a menu with impunity. I may be forever relegated to a boho lifestyle of purloined treats consumed off the premises with fellow losers.

But it's okay. Because I've been alive and done those things.

And believe me, living is better...

xxx c

Searches, we get searchesâ„¢: Project Runway edition

searchesThe numbers don't lie. You can write all you want about life, truth and the pursuit of happiness, the peoples, they just wants their "Project Runway":

  1. Project Runway (Yahoo), project runway (MSN), etc. ad nauseum
  2. project runway "vanessa article" (Yahoo),"bravo project runway" vanessa (Google), etc. ad nauseum
  3. kara saun fashion week (MSN)
  4. music on project runway (Yahoo)
  5. banana republic project runway (Yahoo)
  6. "project runway" mario (Yahoo)
  7. rent video of any episode of project runway (Google)
  8. naked project runway (Yahoo)
  9. what time is project runway on tonight (Yahoo)

Okay, so 99% of you don't give a crap about my startling insights into the human condition. I can take a hint. I can go for the quick buck (and I'm absolutely speaking metaphorically, here, this is so not a lucrative venture).

Still, I seek the love like any lost and lonely blogger. Plus, there's that Virgo motto: "To love is to serve."

So here's the quick rundown for you:

  1. Skip the searches, guys and gals. The juiciest, best-written stuff on PR is right on the Bravo website. Select any episode and then go to Tim's Take for Parsons overlord Tim Gunn's super-fab, ultra-bitchy, ever-insightful spin on the events in question. He makes Michael Musto look like a piker. Rock the fuck on, dude.
  2. Here's the 411 on Vanessa: los-ah! She's such a los-ah, she even said so herself! And, as we all saw on the penultimate episode, she's an alcoholic los-ah, to boot! If you are interested in the bisection of los-ahs and alcohol, may I suggest this article on Imposter Syndrome? May I also suggest that if you suffer from Imposter Syndrome, you learn to keep your trap shut.
  3. Kara Saun should win "PR". Hell, she's so good she should win "Survivor," "The Bachelorette" and "Last Comic Standing," too. The hell with it. Give her an Oscar, too. Just give her everything.
  4. Dude, who gives a crap about the music on "PR?" That track from the Banana Republic ad is the shit. I might go see Chris Pierce at one of his upcoming L.A. gigs. But the crap they play on the show? Sheesh. You need to get out more and stuff.
  5. Banana Republic sponsors PR. They are the high-end arm of the GAP and Old Navy. So while there's a whole lotta savvy marketing going down, I don't know that they're the last word in fashion.
  6. Mario!? Dude, that's like digging Ringo when you've got John, Paul and George to crush on.
  7. You cannot rent videos of any episode of PR yet, dumbass. They're still airing new episodes.
  8. Frankly, I'm thinking "spin-off." But in case the Bravo brain trust isn't with me on this, I gotcher naked couture here.
  9. Two words: Ya-hoo!

Thanks for reading. See you all on the other side of the "PR" finish line!

xxx c

Project Life, by "Project Runway" Part IV

model-yWe're over the hump on hump day, but those Project Runway/Life Lessons just keep on comin'... Thanks to all my Wednesday-only readers who have found me via Google, Yahoo!, Technorati and MSN searches. Just so you know, what I know about fashion would fit in my bra, which, were it to be used for the odd alternate purpose of stowing nuts for winter, wouldn't hold enough to keep an anorexic squirrel alive for 48 hours after the freeze. (And frankly, given how often I even wear one, I might as well donate it to some alternate cause.)

Lesson 12: Make it Fit!

You think foo-foo is the answer? You obfuscator, you! Don't you know that any fool with a MasterCard and a high-speed connection can pile on the frippery?

Real men, or, in this case, women, cut fierce. And Kara Saun is 100% fierce in the fit department. Hear the praise her exquisitely cut wedding sheath earns from stern Parsons overlord, Tim Gunn:

I feel about Kara Saun's work the same way that I feel about the work of Coco Chanel; that is, when you see it you think, "This is exactly what the fashion world has been waiting for!" You can't predict it. You can't anticipate it. You simply respond to what is.

Lesson 13: Remember Whose Name is on the Label

Okay, show of hands: who blows rent money to buy couture from the House of Hacque?

I thought so. Contradicting one's inner voice is a recipe for one giant cheese ball of confusion. I'd rather be Austin and go down in glorious, chiffon-draped flames than wishy-wash my way out by caving to the whims of a sixteen-year-old girl's idea of fashion. Know what you stand for and then get on your freakin' feet and off your damned can already. Sheesh.

Lesson 14: Sell Yourself!

The meek may inherit the earth, but only after it's been picked clean of anything good by the self-promoters. Don't hide your light under a bushel (ooo...that's TWO biblical references, I love it when TV and god intersect). Be like Austin: throw on a velvet cape, rock those YSL specs and work the room!

And if you're not naturally flamboyant and/or gregarious, fake it ‘til you make it. It's called acting, sugar-face!

Lesson 15: Keep it Original

U gots 2 B U. It's one thing to pay homage (i.e., steal the right way); it's quite another to abdicate originality and play copycat. In addition to being crushingly boring (and unethical, despite Tim's lenient take on the issue), it's a waste of good, old-fashioned DNA. You got your own map for a reason; quit looking over your neighbor's shoulder at hers!

Lesson 16: Lead by Example

This challenge had two designers heading up teams of three where each contributed one “look” to a “collection”. Theme? “For the year 2055.” Source materials? Low-end Village vintage shop. As if.

*****VENOM ALERT: Just so we're all clear on this, I thought everyone sucked ass in this challenge. Imitation of Christ, you ain't; I've seen better deconstructions on Jennifer Beals in Flashdance. END VENOM ALERT.*****

Still, Kevin, Team Leader #1, got the boot because ****SWEARING ALERT**** his design sucked the most ass. If you're in charge, your contribution to the team should suck the least amount of ass. So if you are a boss, please do not suck ass. ****END SWEARING ALERT.****


Okay, my babies. Last PR tonight! Last set of Life Lessons to follow...

xxx c


Project Life, by "Project Runway" Part III

after fitzhugh In which we continue to draw Life Lessons from this season's surprise source of integral wisdom (and ripping-good reality TV), "Project Runway."

Lesson 10: There's No Room for Drama on a Deadline

In Episode 4, the designers had to go from working solo to a cluster fuck collaborating in teams! Of three designers each. Mon dieu et zut alors!

Team Kevin fell victim to the drama doldrums when a critical pattern piece went missing. Instead of spending valuable time figuring out a solution, they wasted it (apparently, I've still got to catch up) with infighting and hysteria. As Tim so sagely put it, “It was not essential that the pattern piece be found or that retribution be sought for a speculative thief. What was essential is that the design be finished in time for the runway judging.”

What precious commodity, time, energy, effort, are you frittering away on some “missing pattern piece” of your life when you could be getting on with things? Have you not read He's Just Not That Into You? Do you not get that this is not a dress (OMG!!! ROTFLMAO!!!) rehearsal? Lose the hair shirt! Drop the mantle, Drama Queen! Need I spell it out for you? Tick, tick, tick!!!

Lesson 11: Don't Fall on Your Sword!

Poor Vanessa. She learned this lesson the hard way. When the judges asked which member of the team was the weak link, Vanessa brought up her own inferior cutting skills. WTF?!? Don't aspiring couturiers watch "The Apprentice"? Tim knows the score: “Even when up against a wall and caught red-handed with the evidence, don't volunteer to receive the death sentence; you can't go backwards from there. I'm reminded of another Susan Hayward film (am I dating myself?) in which her character is accused of murder and imprisoned. It's called, I Want to Live! That's the spirit.”

Damn straight, it is! Be your own best friend and your bestest publicist! And if you've found yourself on P4 in the underground parking garage of self-esteem, well, then, fake it till you make it, baby! Do you think that if, say, the President of the United States made an egregious error of some sort or another that he'd throw up his hand and cry “Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maximum culpa!”?! Do you think he'd even cry at all? 'Nuff said.


We're getting down to the wire. Only a few designers and a couple of episodes left. Tonight's VERY SPECIAL PROJECT RUNWAY is a pastiche of interviews with current and former program contestants. But don't call it padding; call it an opportunity to learn! Unless of course, you've got your whole life figured out and everything, Little Miss Buddha!

xxx c


Coming off of a self-imposed, five-year cable hiatus, it figures that my first real Destination TV airs on network. "Medium" (NBC, Mondays 10/9pm) stars Patricia Arquette as Arizona psychic Allison Dubois. Nominally a show about the super-dooper mental powers she employs in the service of various tricky cases for the D.A.'s office (she sees dead people), the real draw here is the juicy-real relationship Allison shares with her husband, Joe (Jake Weber). Yeah, they're both hot (they're TV stars!) and yeah, their exchanges are way better written than the usual i-dotting, t-crossing pap you see on TV (Glenn Gordon Caron of "Moonlighting" fame is at the helm, and his deft ear for dialogue is evident), but oh, oh, the restraint!

Example: upon returning home to find his lovely wife pouring herself yet another fatty vodka or family-sized glass of red (it quiets the voices), instead of a comment, cutting or no, or even a small-but-meaningful glance, we're treated to...nothing. Just the enormity of his pain as he takes in the whole picture and steamrolls over his own impulse to scream or smack her or take her in his arms and shake her before he collapses against her, weeping. Just that, with no fanfare.

Talk about an impulse to weep. I wasn't sure whether to sob with joy or leap to my feet with a "Hallelujah/A-men!" to the heavens and the network heads.

There's also a bunch of stuff in "Medium" about dreams and visions and all the other woo-woo stuff that generally fascinates me in real life, along with some flashy visual F/X-y stuff. But frankly, up against the anomaly of a real, live, everyday relationship on primetime TV, all that sparkly stuff feels...

Well, kinda ordinary.

xxx c

Project Life, by "Project Runway" Part II

plaidWhew! We're really behind on our Project Life/Project Runway Lessons, so I'm going to have to move a little faster to get us caught up. (Don't want to get caught in LIFE with our pants down, HAHAHA!) In Episode 2, the eleven remaining designers (sorry, Daniel, hopefully, you're making the most of your resources back in Hollywood) were each given a big bolt of cotton tubing and told to depict the deadly sin, ENVY, which is the enemy of LOVE. (NOTE: I did not know that last bit but I found it out on the internets, which are excellent for getting truthful information of all kinds).

For instance, another thing I learned is how much fashion design has in common with international diplomacy:

Lesson 4: Step Back and Be Objective

"One of Kara Saun's greatest strengths is her ability to objectify her work; that is, examine it as though someone else created it. This temporary disengagement gives her the ability to diagnose issues and prescribe solutions to her designs; solutions that work. Too frequently, our intentions and our efforts serve to impede our judgment."

—"Tim", from Project Runway

Wow. Condie's pretty lucky she's got a lock on that new gig! Sounds like Kara could give her a run for her money! Plus I bet KS would look better on TV in those foxy outfits. (Note to self: buy embroidery hoops to use as earrings.)

Lesson 5: Challenge Yourself

Okay, this one is easy. All Mario did was take his tubing, pull it over the model's head and make bloody bullet hole thingies to portray the envy because "the fashion industry is cut-throat, so his muse was shot." WTF?!? Lesson by Colleen: Get off your lazy ass. If you cannot get off your lazy ass, you lose.

Lesson 6: Edit

We should have known that Starr had an editing problem. I mean, look at her name: if she took away an "R," then she would be a real "Star" and maybe have a regular TV gig and a big wedding with a bunch of free stuff.

Anyway, Starr's first dress had too many tumors. (Don't ask.) Then she took a bunch off, which is EDITING, and she had...a dress with less tumors. But she lasted another round, which is more than Mario. Everything in moderation, including moderation. Didn't Ben Franklin say that? He was kind of an editor, sort of. You should edit more! More than that! More still!

the other janLesson 7: Be Yourself

Crab, crab, crab. These designers are always crabbing. For instance, Vanessa was crabbing that the challenges were too restrictive, that they didn't let Vanessa shine through. So Tim says: "Ask yourself what it is about your point of view and design philosophy that transcends all forms of presentation. Think: How would Balenciaga have morphed his work so that it would sell on QVC?"

Touché, my little rag trader, touché...

Lesson 8: Listen and Learn

Big fat old Wendy made it to the third challenge by the skin of her pinking shears. But did she act like the LEW-sah she might well have? No, ma'am-a-rama! As Wendy said herself of this opportunity to design "real" clothes, "If I can't design the winning dress for this challenge, then I shouldn't be here. I am Banana Republic!"

Be like Wendy. Take the note. Knock that chip off your shoulder. And when life hands you charmeuse, cut on the bias! (But carefully!)

Lesson 9: Make It Pretty

Poor Starr. As Tim says, "The dress for this challenge looked like a mixture of Poiret, Erte, harlequins, and jesters, worthy inspirations, indeed , but the color relationships, the proportions, the awkward jerking of the fabric as the model walked the runway all screamed "H-E-L-P!!" It was sad. Make it work. Make it pretty."

Bring the Pretty goes hand in hand with Lesson 6, Edit. After all, even the most exquisite Harry Winston jewelry looks likes poopoo if you wear it all at once. Apparently, Starr likes to drag out all the baubles for her weekly shop at the Ralphs. Sorry, Starr. Next time, make it pretty.

xxx c

P.S. Don't forget to watch Episode 8 tonight! The communicatrix is a little caught up in another show right now, but she'll be back on fashion track pretty darned soon!