Monthly Archives: September 2011

Mating Rituals of the Mutually Awkward (Originally for hitRECord)

(GUY and GIRL are sitting next to each other at the Fall Formal. They both are clearly alone. It should be clear that they are interested in each other, but both are far too self-conscious to do anything about it. Instead of sneaking glances flirtatiously, they spend more time fidgeting – she picks at a run in her tights, he blows his nose too loudly, et cetera.)

GUY: So, um… you here alone?

GIRL: Yeah. You?

GUY: Yup. That’s me. Goin’ stag. (Long pause) A lone wolf on the prowl. (Another pause. GIRL smiles at him a little awkwardly.) Ridin’ it solo all night long. (Silence. GUY realizes he has made it sound like he’s masturbating.) I mean, not riding it. I’m not really riding anything. I mean – I mean I could ride something. I’ve been – there have been offers of, of riding. If I wanted to. But I’m not. (A beat.) I should stop talking now, shouldn’t I?

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Hawaii Five-0 – Not exactly lady’s choice (Originally for CliqueClack TV)

Dear Hawaii Five-0,

It seems to me that you and I need to have a talk. Remember last week when I discussed how you are a compulsive people-pleaser who, rather than being happy with what you’re really good at, always seems to want to fix something that ain’t broke, thereby breaking it in the process? And how all I really wanted was everyone being bantering best bros and stuff to be pretty? You seem to need to hear this again, so let me repeat it for you: You were just fine the way you were. And, really, your constant attempts to re-vamp yourself are starting to get annoying.

I think, though, what bothers me about your continued attempts to “improve” yourselves is the very strong sense I get of why you are attempting to improve yourself. Namely, I feel like you’re trying to cater to the lady demographic. As part of that demographic, I beg of you to stop. Please stop. You’re embarrassing yourself; you’re irritating me; and, what’s more, I feel like you really have no idea what women actually want to watch on television. Because you seem to believe that unless there are token girl characters and romantic tension, we women will suddenly become terribly bored with you and go back to knitting or The Bachelor or whatever else it is you think we do. I promise you, that is not true.

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Hawaii Five-0 – Mea culpa (now let’s mess it up again) (Originally for CliqueClack TV)

Sometimes, when I’m thinking about how best to describe a show, or my relationship to a show, or my feelings about a show, I find it easiest to think of the show as being a person. I’m aware this makes me sound like a crazy person who has relationships with television instead of actual people, which is probably true but not actually the point. The actual point is that when you’re thinking about a show as a body of work, it is best to personify it. For example, if were talking about Parks and Recreation, I could attempt to describe all the detailed plot nuances and delights and why you watch it, or I could explain that the show is your class president over-achiever best friend. You know the one. The one who always organizes every party with amazing baked goods. And they kind of make you feel bad because you’re the kind of person who signs up to bring napkins knowing that you’re going to forget to bring anything, and napkins are okay to forget because either everyone will use paper towels (or, more likely, your friend will remember them and tell you not to worry about it), and have you tried the cream cheese brownies? And you will love this friend, because this friend loves you even though you are a slacker douche and that friend is so perky and awesome and with it. And that is Parks and Recreation. Didn’t I just make the show ten times clearer? I thought so.

I was reminded of this technique while I was wrangling with how, exactly, to explain the season 2 premiere of Hawaii Five-0 in a cohesive manner and coming up empty. It was just so big. And so much happened in so many directions. I could easily write a column on about five different things and still feel dissatisfied with the result because I had left out something really, really important. And then I thought about Parks and Recreation, and my tendency to anthropomorphize everything, including television shows, and then it hit me — Hawaii Five-0 is another friend everyone knows and has had before: the friend who tries too damn hard.

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The Dichotomy (For hitRECord/TIME Magazine)

Note:  This was written in response to a collaboration with Joel Stein of TIME Magazine. More details can be found here.

When TIME posted the magazine assignment to hitRECord, I was, oddly enough, not at my computer. Instead, I was on my annual vacation to a YMCA family camp, where one of the nightly activities was, as always, a movie night. The adult movie was Inception.

“I thought you liked Inception,” my mom said to me as I griped and groaned.

I do like Inception. I like it quite a lot. But it has Joseph Gordon-Levitt in it (or, as my parents refer to him, “that famous guy who sometimes likes the stuff you put online”), and I didn’t really feel like watching something with Joseph Gordon-Levitt in it. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a famous guy who looks dapper in suits in a way that makes me nervous. Joseph Gordon-Levitt appears on red carpets and Saturday Night Live, he shows up in fashion editorials and on all my favorite pop culture gossip blogs. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is not a normal human being, he is one of the elite and terrifyingly attractive demigods that populate my entertainment universe. And in my head, he has nothing to do with Joe, my normal-looking, t-shirt and mismatched sock-wearing, slightly pretentious sort-of boss.

I like Joe, My Kind-Of Boss. He’s dedicated and passionate about the work he does. He’s not the best boss I’ve ever had, but he’s far from the worst. My main concern when it comes to Joe is the same one I’ve had with every single boss I’ve worked for, which is balancing my respect for them and the work they do with my natural tendency to try and subvert any sort of authority I encounter.

Facing The Joe Dichotomy in my day-to-day life is something I attempt to avoid as much as possible. Cognitive dissonance is never comfortable. It’s even less comfortable when you realize that Joe Your Kind-Of Boss is also that famous dude. You may know him in a way that’s unusual, even in today’s world of celebrity twitters that share far too much information. You may know him because you’ve worked with him, even if it was a few degrees removed. You’ve shared your artistic ideas and passions and listened to his. In a way, the way you know him (or anyone on hitRECord) is more  personal than people you may have known for years, because there’s nothing more deeply intimate than creating something with somebody else. And in that sense, Joe is just Joe.  At the same time, he’s still Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and you don’t really know him at all.
It’s always a depressing thought, realizing that you don’t occupy the same place in someone’s universe that they occupy in yours. It’s way too depressing to think about on vacation.

“I’m just not in the mood for Inception,” I told my mom, and we left it at that.

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