Thursday, November 07, 2002


Television is doing some serious sweeping right about now. The first week of the fall sweeps has been chock full of quality programming. Granted, I have stopped sampling the rather large crop of first-year shows and solidified my viewing schedule by watching shows I know I like, but those shows are currently operating at a very high level.

Saturday Night Live was actually funny this past week with Eric McCormack hosting and Jay-Z as the musical guest. The cold opening with Darrell Hammond as Rudy Guiliani taping his endorsements for the election had a brilliant punchline and set the tone for a particularly irreverant episode. A spoof of "The Bachelor" provided some solid laughs, and I cracked up at a fake commercial for ABC's Tuesday night lineup which features Bonnie Hunt, Jim Belushi, and John Ritter, dubbed "Last Chance Tuesdays." My favorite bit of the night was a skit with three couples playing Celebrity, a game which I've played several times recently with friends whereby everyone writes the names of celebrities and fictional characters down on slips of paper and puts them in a bowl. The couples then take turns giving and receiving, a la "$25,000 Pyramid" and unselfish foreplay, trying to get their partner to say the name of the celebrity. My Girl and I have played twice in the last month or so with the same group of people, but neither one of us had any idea that the game was known outside this little circle. The SNL skit acutely captured the nuances of people's behavior while playing the game, eventually amping up the unavoidable competitiveness for great comedic effect. Both of Jay-Z's performances were excellent, the first one a duet with Lenny Kravitz, the second one a duet with Beyonce Knowles with Lenny on guitar. I was only marginally familiar with Mr. Z's music and was thus highly impressed by the talented rapper. Eric McCormack did a good job, with his best work coming in a courtroom sketch in which he silently played a defendant who keeps interrupting the witness by sounding a bullhorn, pissing off the judge, who was played by Will Forte, an SNL newcomer who I know from my sitcom days.

Sunday night was a tremendous night of television. "The Sopranos" episode entitled "Mergers and Acquisitions" was an outstanding one after a subpar effort last week, appropriately titled "Watching Too Much Television." Carmela strikes back after finding a female fingernail in the house and correctly assuming that Tony is having an affair. Tony hesitates to commit to the affair beyond a one-night stand because he feels like the woman is tainted goods for having slept with Ralph. But the more Tony investigates whether or not the woman slept with Ralph (she claims she didn't), the more it becomes apparent that Ralphie is a hardcore sexual deviant. "Curb Your Enthusiasm" followed "The Sopranos" with its funniest episode of the season, called "Krazee-Eyez Killa". The title character refers to Wanda's professional rapper fiance, who Larry interacts with at a barbecue. In what may be the most hysterical exhange in the show's history, Krazee-Eyez Killa reads Larry some rap lyrics he wrote that morning and asks for Larry's opinion. Larry suggests Killa change a "motherfucker" to "bitch," and the unlikely pair forge a bond, with Killa asking Larry, "Are you my nigga?" Krazee-Eyez confides in Larry that he loves eating girls out and can't get enough, despite the fact that he's engaged, and makes Larry promise not to tell Wanda. In another storyline, Larry tries to replace a sports jacket he wore while filming an earlier scene in the Scorsese movie. Having no idea the jacket was a part of the movie wardrobe, Cheryl threw the jacket out, and now Larry needs it to wear while filming more scenes. In another outrageous scene, Larry goes down to Mitchell's on Melrose to acquire another jacket and miraculously finds an identical one. But, he pisses off the anal retentive store owner, who then refuses to sell him the jacket. Once again, Larry has a stroke of luck when he finds another identical jacket in Krazee-Eyez Killa's closet while taking a tour of his house. At the end of the hilarious scene, Killa gives him the jacket. Larry is so excited he asks Killa, "Are you my caucasian?" Wanda finds out that Killa is cheating on him, even though Larry told Cheryl and Cheryl did not repeat it to Wanda. Krazee-Eyez assumes Larry spilled the beans to Wanda and comes over to the house enraged. Larry tries to hide upstairs, but Killa hears him stepping on bubble wrap and calls him out. Larry insists he didn't say anything, but Krazee-Eyez Killa doesn't believe him and demands Larry give him the jacket back. Seemingly unfazed, Larry performs oral sex on Cheryl and gets a pubic hair stuck in his throat. Larry shows up on the set of the Scorsese movie without the jacket he needs to wear, but the wardrobe woman bails him out by having a backup. Martin Scorsese is left muttering "This guy's gonna kill me. How many more scenes we got with him?" In the middle of filming his scene in the movie, Larry again gags and chokes on the pubic hair.

Instead of recapping Tuesday night's episode of "24" in detail, I just want to comment that the pace continues to be relentless. Kiefer continues to carry the show on his back, but seems to have more help this season. Now that we've been to hell and back with Palmer and Kim on Day 1, there isn't as much of a lull when we leave Kiefer to check in on the secondary plot lines. Apparently, I'm not the only one who feels the show has improved.

Last night Democrats got their fictional revenge for Tuesday night's beating by electing Jed Bartlett to another four years as POTUS on "The West Wing".

I missed "American Dreams" on Sunday night, probably because I started to get bored with the show and my desire to watch it has waned. I still think it's a great premise, but the execution feels soft. However, it appears NBC has great confidence in the freshman show.

There's much more to life than TV though. That's why I badly need TiVO.

Birthday shout out to the most passionate and loyal TV viewer I know and a best friend since fourth grade, J-Yoz. Happy Birthday, Wizard of Yoz!

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

Tuesday, November 05, 2002


Nothing is wrong. I just feel blah, that’s all. Where is it written that I have to be upbeat and funny all the time? Nowhere, that’s where. I suppose I hold myself up to that ideal, because, really, it’s more fun for me. Once again, I am temping this week at a certain Hollywood studio with a knack for turning Little Creatures and Little People into pots of gold. I’m comfortable here, but there’s a limit to just how comfortable one can be as a temp. I can never really settle into one desk or department or assignment. Every day and every week has the potential to be one of transition. Consequently, the larger issues are weighing on me: Where is this going to lead? Is this helping my career? Do I have a career? How have I managed to work in this industry for almost eight years and not have a career? How am I going to work my way out of debt making ten bucks an hour? The smaller issues are nagging at me: I’ve got to get back to eating right. I’ve got to resume my running regimen. I’ve got to write every day. I’ve got to finish something. But, in actuality, nothing is wrong. I’m working pretty consistently. I’ve been having a lot of fun lately. I’m reading a great book. My relationship is going really well. My ideas are good. I just haven’t been as strict with my diet and exercise and I’m not writing as much as I’d like. I can turn that stuff around in a hurry. The other stuff, the big stuff, may take a little time to straighten out. Temping seems perfect for me right now, during this period of plotting. I can bounce around, try a bunch of different things, but not be tied to any one of them. Sure, I’m going to have to get a permanent job soon, there’s really no way around it. But, taking my time and methodically maneuvering into position will hopefully ensure that I’ll land in the perfect place.

Monday, November 04, 2002


Rattling around in my head today is the question: “What makes a party great?” As a social being, and with all the special occasions this year, I’ve often felt like a professional party attendee. I don’t blame these party-throwers one iota for inviting me, as I am a damn good guest. I’m pleasant, entertaining, and I can handle my liquor. But, my presence is only a small fraction of what it takes to make a fun fiesta transition into a barnstorming bash.

First things first, you need to set the proceedings into motion. That means, at the very least, you must provide the basics: namely alcohol, music, and people. Without these, your party doesn’t even have a chance to get off the ground. Now, to get the thing to spread its wings and soar, some other element must be introduced into the mix. This very slippery X-factor is not so easy to get a hold of.

THEME: If the gathering coincides with a holiday or a birthday, you’ve got yourself a theme, and that always helps. Halloween lends itself particularly well to creating a unique atmosphere, but nothing says you can’t have a costume party at any time during the year. If no holiday or event, like the Super Bowl, can be attached and you really want some sort of theme, you have to get creative. You can come up with a concept – 80s, Day-Glo, rave, nitrous tank, pajama, etc. – but, honestly, it’s not entirely necessary. Great parties don’t need to be theme parties.

ALCOHOL: You can never have too much.

MUSIC: A live band can lift a party to great heights if they get the revelers on their side, but it can also kill any chance for greatness by sucking up the joint and sucking the life out of the room. You run the same risk with a DJ, although you can always tell the person spinning to play something different, whereas you might not have that option with a band. If you’re planning a party on a budget, a few mixes can often do the trick, but they must be well conceived to sustain the energy level for several hours. The mixes can’t be too obscure, but they can’t lean on the standards either. I find the mix method to be more effective than simply throwing a bunch of CDs into the changer and letting things ride. Inevitably, after the initial batch of CDs gets played out, someone from the party thinks they know exactly what’s needed and takes over the stereo. Usually, they only know what music they’d like to hear and a power struggle over music control ensues. Then there’s always digital radio…

SNACKS: Not essential, but always welcome. Unless you're serving a five-course gourmet meal, keep it simple: Salt and Chocolate.

PEOPLE: The crowd at any shindig is a reflection of its hosts. Taking this into account, I suppose it’s only natural that you have to be a pretty magnetic person to attract an assortment of interesting individuals. Unfortunately, if you’re not such a person, you should probably hire someone who is to take the reins and plan your party. Very important: The logistics of the setting dictate how many people you can accommodate. So, whether you have a little tiny apartment or fantastic house with no available parking, you have to make sure you don’t invite too many people, otherwise you’ll find a big fat barrier blocking your bash from breaking on through to the other side.

The Halloween/Dia De Los Muertos Party I attended on Friday night at the home of Ken Layne and Laura Crane had all of the above in spades. There were costumes, oodles of booze, a campfire, Tarot card readings, a flying electronic bat, a huge bowl full of candy and mini-chocolate bars, live music performed by party guests, sing-alongs, and volumes of strange and interesting conversation. The hosts did an outstanding job of setting things into motion and the X-factor was present in a variety of forms. My Girl and I had to sneak out just before 5 am because we didn’t want to interrupt the circle of music, which didn’t seem to be losing any steam, to say goodbye. Nor did we get a chance to thank our gracious hosts, who stirred all these ingredients together to make a truly great party and a memorable night. So thanks Layne and Crane.