October 31, 2010

Suggested New Taglines for the Television Show "Glee"

I'm not sure if "Glee" has an official tagline, slogan, motto, whatever you want to call it.  I am sure that it used to be a show I enjoyed greatly; a show that promised much.  A show with interesting characters tripping along in situations and wrapped in contexts germane to average Americans - high school, cliques, taunting, being taunted, sports, boyfriends, girlfriends, nice teachers, mean teachers, ineffectual administrators, hormones, finding your own way, impromptu $500,000 production numbers in high school auditoriums.

Also, for  a while there, it had these things called writers.  Writers who created compelling stories that, while not always perfectly believable, were believable enough for the purposes of compelling television.

Perhaps my expectations were too high, though I never expected the show to be as realistic as "Freaks and Geeks," or as amazingly contrived and elaborately plotted as "Arrested Development."  Was it too much to ask, however, to have some of the Freaks and some of the Geeks walking the same halls with some of the plucky triple-threats from "Fame," and to have Gob Bluth as their principal?  (I mean, come on!  What school kid in their right mind wouldn't want "The Final Countdown" as their institution's fight song?)

Also, Lucille and Buster have to be in there somewhere.  That's not optional.

Without getting into particulars, I will only say that, after Glee apparently fired all of its writers, the show has dropped precipitously.

Yes, yes, yes... those kids can sing and dance!  No shit.  Everyone knows that.  I'm going to go out of my way and make the wild assertion that their stellar singing and dancing abilities were two of the three reasons that they were cast in the first place.

The third reason, I suspect, was acting ability.  Acting ability is usually displayed by people called actors who read words in a script and then speak them in such a way as to make you care about their characters - not like or love or hate or worry or wonder or feel ambivalent about - but all of those things and so much more.

It's the reason why, when you watch the actor Martin Starr playing the character Bill Haverchuck in "Freaks and Geeks," you both laugh with him and feel great empathy for him when he comes home alone to his very small house, makes himself a grilled cheese sandwich and bursts out laughing while watching television - mouth wide open, partially-chewed sandwich bits visible in his mouth and all.  You care.  A scene with no lines at all, but, because Bill is so established by the brilliant writing in the series up until that scene, you care deeply.  If you don't, you're probably a fucking sociopath.

Compare that scene to the horrific treatment which beset Rachel Berry and her birth mother, Shelby Corcoran, when they were coming to terms with their deservedly complex feelings for each other given their situation.  The writers actually put very real thought into the situation and treated it with the ambiguity it deserves, and then?  To say "good-bye?"  They sang Lady Gaga's "Pokerface" to each other.

Signifying what?

Who the hell knows, but it was the Lady Gaga episode, so that was the shit that was dumped on the viewers.  Lyrically and musically, it was a song which was completely irrelevant to character or context, intent or import and pulled the empathy of the viewer away from the characters and made us just feel sorry for the actors.  It was almost shocking to witness.

I'm not going to slight any particular actor on the Glee cast, and here's why: it is extremely, extremely difficult to make those increasingly moribund, illogical, disjointed, almost apathetic lines come to life.  Characters say lines that make you think they're speaking another character's words and not in the transformative sense of truly growing to understand the other character, but more like the "oh, shit, that was your line, wasn't it" sense.  Characters have stopped developing and started playing a psychosocial game of hopscotch from episode to episode or even scene to scene.

Again, this hopscotch stems not from the playground game, which progresses rationally and has distinct roles for the participants, but rather from the type of hopscotch one might play after dousing ones sneakers in gasoline, lighting them and trying to stomp out a field of prairie dogs with the flaming treads.

In other words, not a real game of hopscotch at all.  Prairie Dog Self-Immolation Stomp Scotch?

There's a very real sense in the show that the characters start a table read before a new episode is filmed by reaching into a large bucket where the lines have been cut into small scraps and speaking whatever they pull out.  One step above magnetic poetry perhaps, but not a big step.  At this point, I'm half-expecting Finn to start worrying aloud about his menstrual cycle.

The show, at least in its first half-season or so, seemed to exist to tell a story about its characters, which I (stupidly, I guess) assumed was the point of most fictional television shows.  (I know, how horribly Western canon and linear of me.)  The songs came into the show at key points to underline feeling, heighten tension, resolve conflict, make us realize that we actually did like Journey, etc..., but they served the story, for the most part.

Since then, we have been deluged with "theme" episodes, which have flipped the characters and story into the role of supporting songs.  Consider the aforementioned "Pokerface" trashing and the debacle that was the entire Britney Spears episode as two very salient bits of evidence.

Maybe this is laziness on the part of the writers, maybe greed on the part of Fox, a combination of greed facilitating an innate desire to phone it in.  Who cares.   For whatever reason, it happened, and curmudgeons like myself are already waxing nostalgic for the "glory" of a show that is not yet even out of diapers.

So, in honor of the disappointment which it has become, I offer some new taglines that more closely fit my current view of Glee.

1) Getting Less Every Episode.

2) Like old-school MTV without the plot!

3) Have you downloaded the songs on iTunes yet?  Have you?  C'mon!  Do it!  Now!

4) EL - E - G

5) Sectionals, eventually.

6) There's a story in here.  Somewhere.

7) We've jumped dozens of sharks.

8) Glee without mirth.

9) All these songs are on iTunes!  They are!

10) A television show you can watch on the radio!

11) We're popular now; so we don't have to care about you.  Ironic, isn't it?

October 29, 2010

Where The Pain Takes You

1) Down Pain Avenue three blocks, then a left on Pain Street

2) On a double-date with hurt, angst and suffering, and you really have no good way to figure how to pair up

3) To Spain in a plane where it mainly rains, unless you happen to be in Spain already, and so you should remain, or are close enough that you could walk or take a train

4) Pain House, not to be confused with The House of Pain or Paintopia: An Executive Community of Prestige

5) Wherever it wants provided you have a passport and an ass to kick all the way there

6) Over Despair Falls, which you briefly think means your despair will fall away, but then you remember that pain's always playing dickish jokes like that

7) Toward a performance art career

8) (Tie)  dark places / abandoned interstate highway restrooms / shows by performance artists / WalMart / church basements

October 27, 2010

Euphemisms I Invented For The Word "Penis" Which Are Much Worse Than The Word Itself

1 - Broad Sword

2 - The Very Bad Juggler

3 - The Conjunction

4 - Download Cable

5 - Leaky Faucet

6 - The Prime Directive

7 - Lemonade Stir Stick

8 - Li'l Bunter

9 - Disease Vector 1A

10 - Strange Tree

11 - The Overused Metaphor

12 - Trumpy

13 - Wastepipe Not Meeting Current Environmental Regulations

14 - DNA Spit Valve

15 - Progeny Projector

16 - The Misunderstood Genius

17 - Creator

18 - Zippersaurus Rex

19 - The Actual Middle Finger

20 - Sir Dangly

21 - Tonsil Bridge

22 - Blind Spelunker

23 - Vomit Eel

24 - Lite Saber

25 - Non-Load-Bearing Beam

26 - The Lowest Highest Point

27 - Manifestering Destiny

28 - Firestarter

29 - Soldier With A Head Wound

30 - Pat Sajack

31 - A Less Than Impressive Volcano

October 26, 2010

Evolution F**ks Up

Evolution has been drinking heavily, not taking care of itself.  It's gotten sloppy.  Careless.  Relying on lesser paradigms to phone it in for itself.  

Recently, it went on a bender with phrenology, and was found naked three days later in a church basement babbling about how everything there was "totally awesome."

Evolution has made the following mistakes, and offered its sincerest apologies, saying, "It won't happen again!  Honest!  You gotta believe me, baby!  That wasn't me.  This is me.  I'm back, honey, for good this time!  Evolution gonna treat you right, baby!  I mean it!"

Cymbal Flounder - a very flat fish, concealing itself in the silty seabed, but like a percussive dinner plate, ringing clangorously with every move making it too easy a target for predators and keeping nearby coral reefs up most of the night

Donkitty - while adorable at birth, these furry, hoofed mammals quickly outgrow their scratching posts and remind us all why the pussy and ass are better left separated

ZeBra - part ungulate, part underwire, mostly unflattering, made for both poor sales figures and poor figures

Monkeys - these were supposed to have been killed off a couple million years ago when they lost to humans, but evolution admits to letting them hang around to see if they ever will type the complete works of Shakespeare and because of their penchant for wearing funny, funny hats

Girplatypus - the constant butt of evolution's jokes, throwing a giraffe's neck on the common platypus seemed really funny after all the theories in the bar were past their fifth mixed drink

Glenn Beck - it got this one right only to prove intelligent design is obvious bunk, but evolution has regretted it mightily ever since

Chickens - fat, flightless and faulty, this design should have been terminated long ago, but evolution could never determine if the chicken or egg died first

October 22, 2010

Concerns I Have About Space And Time

- Space gets angry if I pretend it's not there, and it may be more than a healthy amount of anger.

- Time has begun overusing chat abbreviations in its texts.  I'm not sure it even knows what they mean; leading to awkward exchanges like this:  Me - "We can talk later. I'm at my dad's funeral."  Time - "rotflmao"  What?  That's going to cause a lot of trouble with people who are not as understanding as I am.

-  Often, time just keeps going on and on when I give clear signals that I'm no longer paying attention.

-  Finite or infinite?  Space wants it both ways, and it's just not something my heart is able to grasp.

-  Time has expressed unwavering support for space, but then often uses air-quotes when discussing space's many "accomplishments."  Just like that; air-quotes around accomplishments.

-  I found an empty bottle of rum under space's bed.

-  Time has grown increasingly abusive toward other dimensions, often running backward just to fuck with their flow.

-  I recently learned they may be closely related, which is going to make for a very awkward conversation given what happened at Debbie's birthday party last weekend.

Answers You Did Not Want To Hear To Questions You Always Wanted To Ask

1. Reddish, but with black smears in it.

2. Under the coffee table.

3. Stay near the middle but look to the left the whole time.

4. Seven or eight, I forget.

5. Sorta.

6. Because he likes things.

7. It was a woman's fault.

8. Probably magic.

9. Jesus or his little sister.