Friday, October 11, 2002


It's after three o'clock on Friday afternoon and I'm officially sick of working. I'm sure most people feel this way every week, but being that this is the first full week I've worked in eight months, I think my system is in shock right now. I cannot fathom how people do this without losing their minds. I don't know, maybe I'm just wired differently. After living free-form for so long, I'm having an extremely difficult time adjusting to having to be in a specific place at a specific time. Luckily, I'm only working as a temp, otherwise I would have already considered quitting. Answering phones in a busy office is down near the very bottom of my list of things I'd like to do for a living. If I had a job like this with no end in sight, I would surely develop a severe case of claustrophobia. Through all the insane hours on inane sitcoms, all the late night rewrites, all the tape nights that went into the wee hours, there was always the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. Whether by cancellation or the end of production, I knew the show would come to an end and I would be free. Granted, most of the time I was hoping the show would be a hit and I could go on hiatus with the knowledge that I had a job to come back to, but that never happened. So as each season came to a close I became eligible to collect unemployment and regroup. Sometimes I would collect for a few months until the early summer when shows were starting up again, and sometimes I would collect until my yearly allotment ran out, like now. This year, I rode the unemployment wave all the way to the shore, but now it's flat and it might be quite awhile before the next set rolls in. Like it or not, I have to work. The thing is, working a full week at the measly rate they pay temps, I'll be lucky to clear what I was making on the newly-raised unemployment maximum. I'm not saying I'd be satisfied and proud of my life if I collected unemployment forever. In all honesty, I don't think I have an aversion to work, per se, just work that seems beneath me. That may sound elitist, but I believe I have a tremendous amount of talent and ability. Taking phone messages, scheduling meetings, and calling messengers feels like more of a waste of time than sititng on my purple velvet couch watching "Pardon the Interruption" or "The Anna Nicole Smith Show." What I have to do is use this experience as motivation to work harder. Write more. Write better. Find other ways to make money. This is of the utmost importance, considering this job could end any second and I still feel like I'm in a CAT scan machine, unable to move a muscle or maneuver in any direction. Trapped.

Thursday, October 10, 2002


Piker will admit to being a little obsessed with the tee-vee lately, but feels a sea-change coming on. After all, the cinema is Piker's true passion, not the idiot box. That being said, it should come as no surprise to this publication's handful of loyal readers that Oscar handicapping is a favorite Piker pastime. This is typically a period of time during the film year that is all about anticipation. Maybe one or two movies or performances have come out of the summer as leading candidates for nominations, but predominantly, November and December provide the bulk of Oscar-potential material. There are about ten movies I'm excited to see in the coming months and most of them are mentioned in this comprehensive Oscar preview. In particular, I'm psyched for "Adaptation", "Catch Me If You Can", "Gangs of New York", "Chicago", "About Schmidt", "Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers", "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind", and "Solaris." Yeah, I'd say it's just about time to click off the old TV, grab a bucket of popcorn, pour in a bag of M&M's, and settle into a cold and dark movie theater.


Call it "Return to Southfork Ranch". One of my favorite TV shows of all-time is coming to a theater near you. "Dallas" is being updated and remade into a major motion picture. I'm anxious to see how The Ewings, perhaps the greatest soap opera family in TV history, translate to the big screen. If you'll notice in the Yahoo! article, no writer is attached yet...


We have our first two cancellations of the fall television season. Both casualties happen to be shows that I sampled and wrote about. ABC has yanked "That Was Then" and "Push, Nevada" from the schedule. "That Was Then" is gone, done, finito, kaput, after only two episodes. Because of its interactive nature, "Push, Nevada" will be aired three more times to give viewers enough clues to solve the mystery and win (raise pinky to lips) one million dollars. Truthfully, I don't think "That Was Then" was given a fair shot, but I didn't like it enough to make a big stink about it. The arcane "Push, Nevada" serves as ABC's Thursday night sacrifice against "Must See TV" and "CSI" competition. For TV geeks like me, it's always kind of fun to predict the first show to get canceled. "MDs" was my pick.

Wednesday, October 09, 2002


Call me the weakest link and say goodbye, 'cause I'm gone. I watched this past Thursday night's episode of "Survivor:Thailand" on tape and I can now safely say that I am sick of that show. Frankly, I haven't enjoyed it much since the original "Survivor" and "Survivor: The Australian Outback" with Colby and Elizabeth and Jeri and company. That season had great archetypes and rivalries and all sorts of weirdness, such as Michael passing out and getting his hands fried by the fire. Let's call it great casting. Since then, the "Survivor" franchise has consisted of an endless parade of whiners and morons. The third installment "Survivor: Africa" was a dud. The cast was flat out annoying. The old people versus young people tribal breakdown was ridiculous. A "Survivor" self-consciousness seemed to have crept in. The contestants were well aware what being on the show meant in terms of fame and whatever strategy this limited game contains. It bored me. I tuned out. I didn't tune back in until the finale, where Ethan the Soccer Player, won the title, either because of or despite his lack of any semblence of a personality. Lex was fairly interesting, probably because he had a bit of a temper and his tatoo sleeves read well on camera. The fourth installment of the aging series, "Survivor: Marquesas", was a complete disaster. The location was undeniably idyllic, but the cast was a nightmare. Hunter, seemingly a professional survivalist, was voted out early by his tribe of idiots, not necessarily because he was a threat but because he was bossy. The guy was the only one in the tribe who knew what he was doing! Ugh. That soured me right then and there. After disliking "Africa" so much, I was more than ready to ditch this series. But certain friends of mine who are fully committed to the enjoyment of reality television wouldn't let me quit. I begrudgingly watched a few more episodes with My Girl and this couple who we met through, are very good friends with, and whose wedding we will be attending next weekend. It was fun to make fun of the "characters", like Zooey the obvious lesbian who, in trying to win favor with her tribemates when she knew she was on the ropes, crafted some pretty shell bracelets for everyone. But I strongly disagreed with something the show did. The idiot tribe that voted off Hunter, easily their best player, should have been punished and made to suffer for their actions, yet the producers decided for the second straight season to switch up the tribes. Wholly unfair. One tribe was working as a team and getting along and winning challenge after challenge, while the Hunter-less tribe was divided and weak. They should have kept the tribes the way they were and let it play out. I wanted to see Hunter's former mates twist in the wind and get voted off one by one until the strong tribe had to finally start voting themselves out. That would have been an interesting game. But they switched it up and Vecepia, one of the idiots who conspired to oust Hunter, flew under the radar all the way to the finish line, beating that unlikable little hippie chick and winning a million bucks. As I have stated before, the finale of that season was one of the worst episodes of television I have ever sat through. With two poor players vying for the "Survivor" championship and Rosie O'Donnell warbling a Survivor-themed rendition of "Gilligan's Island," the series reached its jaw-dropping nadir. I vowed to stop watching. This season, "Survivor: Thailand" rolls around and My Girl won't let me off the hook. She's still into it and wants to share with me. So we cozied up to watch the aforementioned tape and I'm sorry to say it was more of the same. Two black characters from the same tribe were bickering. The female claimed the male groped her during the night, the male apologized, they hugged and all was forgiven. Then the female told the rest of the tribe what happened and got upset all over again. All kinds of miscommunication ensued and the tribe was in disarray. But the other tribe was worse. Apparently, they really wanted to vote out this lazy guy named Jed, who didn't seem that bad, so they let him try to figure out this puzzle on his own even though the group was supposed to be working on it together and immunity was at stake. Jed didn't come through. They lost and unceremoniously made Jed the first member of their tribe to be voted out. I'm only sorry it wasn't me. Tell Probst to come over and put my torch out. I want off the island. I'm through.

Tuesday, October 08, 2002


Apparently Bonnie Hunt doesn't need comedy writers for her new show. I've watched that show and I must say that the funniest scenes do seem to come out of her improvisation on the set of her fictional morning show. But the rest of the show isn't that funny and might benefit from having a bunch of professional comedy people in a room pitching jokes. That way, maybe every episode wouldn't have to end with a hug and an "I Love You."


We here at Piker support Snoop Doggy Dogg in his battle with the deadly hemp plant. He'll still roll down the street, he'll still sip on gin and juice, but no mo' smokin' indo for the D-O-G. Best of luck, Dogfather. Our prayers are with you.


I have always struggled with time management. When I have all the free time in the world, I never seem to take advantage of it. When my time is limited, by something like, say, a job, I’m reminded of all the things I wanted to do with my free time. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been baffled by this conundrum, and I know I won’t be the last, but this issue has come to the fore of my life as one that I must conquer. As anyone who desires to make a living as a writer will tell you, there is no more important internal war to win than the one with discipline. How monumentally hard it is to impose structure on a life that doesn’t dictate one. A writer must be sure to do enough living to gather material and sit down to process that experience into some sort of art. Personally, I tend to be an extremist in my time management. I either work an incredible amount or not at all. I write obsessively or I don’t even sit down to make an attempt. I’m striving to find that tenuous balance between work and play. I’ve mastered the play part, now it’s time to make marked improvement in the areas of work and discipline. I’m going to start by answering this phone that’s ringing in my temporary boss’ office.

Monday, October 07, 2002


I'm overheated, overworked, and overwhelmed. I've got to find a way out of this daily grind rat race thing. I forgot how much I hate working. It's seven o'clock and I'm still at work! I'm missing Game 5 of the Braves-Giants series. I'm missing Monday Night Football. This office is boiling hot, we can't get the thermostat to kick in, the phone doesn't stop ringing, people talk too fast on the phone, and I have no idea what I'm doing. This is on top of that feeling I get when I'm around this development wheel that I'm not doing nearly enough to advance my career. In fact, what is my career? What am I doing? Oh man, how I long for the days of summer...


Well, it's finally happened. The day has come when this Piker had to get up in the morning and go to work. I am working as a temp today at New Line Cinema, ironically assisting one of my former roommates. Easy going thus far. He hasn't shown up yet and I've only had to answer the phone a few times. Stay tuned for updates.

The Dolphins had a big win yesterday over the Pats, which is nice and all, but it wasn't enough to salvage an otherwise dismal weekend in sports for me.

I caught the last twenty minutes of the second episode of "American Dreams" last night. It was okay. I'm starting to get bored with it already. It doesn't move fast enough.

By contrast, "The Sopranos" was cranked up to hyperspeed last night. Incredible episode.