The Chair is taking a seek-off and is currently on a 2-day whirlwind adventure (on which there will be a full report).
Rest assured, where he is, is NOT a sh*thole.
The Chair is taking a seek-off and is currently on a 2-day whirlwind adventure (on which there will be a full report).
Rest assured, where he is, is NOT a sh*thole.
Do you ever just need to rest? Pull the covers over your head and hibernate? Put your feet up on the sofa and settle in for a long day’s binge? (Netflix that is, but chocolate works too). Ever need to check out, even if just for a few hours, from the daily deluge of crap that inundates us everyday? Or just close the blinds and pretend it’s still nighttime and the sun is taking an extra siesta with you?
My bones are aching today and my mind is mush. Let’s all just embrace the exhaustion and give it a rest for a week.
But don’t worry — I’ll be back… and well-rested.
It’s the new television season.
Television has always been a comfort zone for me – the equivalent of a soft, cushy chair (Note: Hee, hee) even when it’s dramatically tragic and making me think.
Of course, in a way, thinking is my comfort zone. Contemplating the fate of the world and trying to figure it all out may not always be reassuring, but excavating dark thoughts out into the open air – or page – at least frees them from doing further damage.
This is not to say experiencing the funny and absurd and entertaining is not an equally effective escape. It’s only to admit that both light and darkness do the job, albeit in different ways.
Lord (or whoever you deem your higher power to be) knows we need some escape right now.
One can’t write anything at the moment and ignore the Madness of our Crazy King Trump – the man who hate tweets the mayor of Puerto Rico as hundreds or perhaps thousands of her constituents are dying from lack of power, water and food. Her crime: begging the bureaucracy of what she still says is the greatest country in the world (that would be us – the U.S.) for not cutting through red tape fast enough in order to literally save her people.
Here was the immediate response of our Electoral College POTUS:
Sure, it did make me feel better. For like – a minute.
That is why we need television. Among so many other reasons.
So it was with hopeful anticipation that I tuned in for the newest diversions and deep thinking the small screen had to offer this past week and hit a few bright spots. The key phrase being: a few. There just isn’t enough deep thinking and diversion for my needs so far.
Still, let’s start with the good news.
Will and Grace didn’t disappoint and made me LOL. (Note: You all know what that means, right?) Any show that can more than a decade later once again start with the title characters slaying a game of celebrity to the tune of bon mots like:
Will: She’s….don’t get me started..
Grace: Jada-Pinkett Smith!!
Well, that’s the pop culture dessert for me. It didn’t hurt when that was followed by:
Will: We want to love her but she makes it impossible.
Grace: Caitlyn Jenner!!
Yes, there are the Trump jokes, the egocentric jabs at each others’ clear and many shortcomings and the exaggerated stereotypes of representation of almost anyone in its orbit. But somehow this show has always made us (me?) feel that it’s not only in on the joke but is itself actually the #1 target of all the bitchiness. I don’t care what the naysayers speak: A plus for making me scream out with joy for once this year. Aside from that night when…oh, never mind.
The Voice – Most of you know I’m a frustrated singer who can sort of carry a tune but could never call what comes out of my mouth singing. Yet if I could call it that and I could choose my voice it would sound exactly like new Voice judge Jennifer Hudson. Sure, that would be an odd sight and sound but what makes a great singer are those very oddities.
Adam Levine, Miley Cyrus and Blake Shelton are still there, the talent seemed particularly promising and the genius of those revolving chairs still work. And who knew Jennifer Hudson was not only a genius vocalist but so sassy, smart and daring? She only seemed just sort of sweet and cool when she was interviewed (Note: Which truly is enough on its own when you can…SING).
But anyone who can throw shoes at performers to tell them how much she loves them and give a white guy contestant demonstrably more vocal soul in an impromptu 60 second tutor fest is invited to my house at least twice a week for the next three months. At which time, I will have a modicum more soul and hopefully sound a little better.
The Deuce – I was fascinated by the NYC porn industry in the 1970s and not just because I was a teenager. There was something about its sleazy coolness and open arms of non-judgmental anything goes in an age where our institutions were anything but that – sparkled. Yes, sparkled.
I remember as a kid the glittering marquees near 42d St., the smiles from the hookers and pimps as you’d walk by who made you sort of feel like they were only serious to a point, and the tongue-in-cheek abandon many of its performers exhibited onscreen and in public that made it…well, sparkle. At least to this adolescent.
This show captures none of that, with the exception of Maggie Gyllenhaal’s fun and quite brilliant performance as Candy – the archetypal hooker with a sort of heart of gold. She manages to get the whole spirit of what’s going on while the rest of the cast and the writers and the directors seem caught in an imitative world of dreariness that begs to be seen as important. Maybe it’ll get better but, don’t dress. (Note: Get it?)
The return of This Is Us and How to Get Away With Murder
These are two of my favorite series and they couldn’t be more different. Still, they share one major plotline this season — the arc around THE BABY. In the latter it’s the who took my baby?!! (Note: Clearly, it’s not the dingo, though you wish it would or did) and in the former it’s we’re gonna adopt another baby whether you like it or not but…okay, maybe instead we’ll foster a teenager instead!!!
The problem with both these storylines is not that you and I don’t like babies – they’re okay. It’s that neither of them is truly in keeping with what these series are about. HTGAWM is not about the immediate fate of the toddler but what’s happened to the toddlers as adults. This is Us’ primary conceit centers on key moments in the lives of each of its three babies in childhood, adolescence and adulthood – but now they’re gonna give us a FOURTH kid?
Nevertheless, kudos to 93-year-old Cicely Tyson for making it look so easy to be that real and compelling on HTGAWM, and someone give Milo Ventimiglia a long heartfelt hug (Note: Me, again? Please?) for figuring out how to be the best version of the flawed father we all long for in our imaginary families.
Young Sheldon – As a smart kid with more than a few phobias I had to watch it. And after catching Jim Parsons promote it on Colbert as he spoke about his husband and what love can do for a gay man’s soul I really had to watch it – even if both young and adult Sheldon are not gay.
Let’s be kind – it’s not for me though the kid is cute and clever and very believable. And it wasn’t cause it took place in east Texas. It just feels like…it’s trying too hard? Why not let young Sheldon more fully fly his freak flag and have the humor come out of reality rather than attempts at zesty comic set-ups and payoffs. Then, even for non-Big Bang Theory fans, the show could have potential.
American Horror Story: Cult – Gosh, it’s ridiculous. But not solely in the AHS franchise way. How can a camp series be too ridiculous with such a cool idea as the horror of the Trump election? Well, let’s start with stunt casting.
Having Chaz Bono as a redneck store manager Trumpster who would rather saw his arm off than stay home on poll day, or Billy Eichner as a gay (bisexual?) trainer at a gym who would rather commit murder than move out of his house – makes you think only of how clever it is to have Chaz and Billy on AHS. Except it isn’t. Cause these storylines are just plain…dumb.
Evan Peters is great as the incarnation of a blue-haired Charles Manson-like nihilist and Sarah Paulson doesn’t know how to NOT be in the moment, as they teach you in acting class. But there is no actor great enough to sell the ludicrousness of the smiley-face versions of killer clowns running amuck in Red State America.
I fear this is why they hate us.
Full Disclaimer: No I have not yet watched Ken Burns’ 18-hour, 10 episode documentary The Vietnam War, which is on PBS and streaming and, I hear, is fantastic. Yes, I know all about the Nixon/Trump parallels but I just wasn’t ready for that much thinking this week. Soon, I will be, though. I think. Maybe.
The Chair will be live tweeting all things Emmy tonight (starting at 8pm EST / 5pm PDT), so join in the fun using #NotesfromtheEmmys
Tune in Monday for a full Chair Emmy recap — which will hopefully include celebrating
Zoe Bartlet Peggy Olson Offred Elisabeth Moss finally becoming Emmy royalty (#sorryClaire #UnderHisEye)
I hadn’t planned on binge watching Amazon’s The Last Tycoon. But it’s set in 1930s Hollywood and stars Matt Bomer as the first young genius studio exec – a guy who is impossibly handsome, a virtuoso at story, Jewish and…wait for it…manages in his own Tinsletown way to fight the Nazis. One might say this was MADE for ME.
Besides, I desperately needed an escape from Trump and Mooch – two neighborhood bullies from Queens/Long Island, my home turf, whom I’ve fought all of my life to avoid, escape and, ultimately, defeat.
Yes, it’s a bit sobering to realize that despite years of positive experiences, therapy and a life you personally deem a success, that somewhere deep down many of us (Note: Okay, I) still carry around the anger and childhood scars of hurt that our tormenters managed to cavalierly foist on us decades before. Not to mention a deep-seated need to not only defeat them but pulverize their smug, mealy-mouthed faces of capped pearly whites far down below Middle Earth.
On the other hand, to recognize this is, to an extent, to be freed of it. You can’t fight people like Donald Trump and Anthony Scaramucci until you realize exactly who they are and what they represent to you. For me, it’s a uniquely New York brand of self-assured macho know-nothingness. A dictatorial, cavalier expression of selfish id that they think entitles them to rule the roost of the neighborhood –which in 2017 terms means the world.
When the Mooch, Electoral Potus’ new “communications director” (Note: If that meant orangutans were interpreters of logic for chimpanzees), this week publically spewed (via a reporter for The New Yorker, no less!) that soon to be ex-White House Chief of staff Reince Priebus was a “fucking paranoid schizophrenic” and that White Supremacist/Electoral Potus consigliore Steve Bannon was nothing like him because The Mooch wasn’t interested in “sucking my own cock” I wasn’t particularly taken aback. Instead, I was actually back in the old neighborhood. Because that’s EXACTLY how I remembered these cretins talking when I was a teenager. The difference is at that time I imagined the most either of them would amount to was working behind the deli counter or selling real estate on Queens Blvd. as they chased the grown up versions of the gals with overly processed hair that I worked with at the neighborhood stationary store. I never thought, even in my wildest nightmare, that they could become the defacto leaders of what was once referred to as the Free World.
I mean, if you would have told me that one of them would have actually become president by cozying up with Russian propagandists – and when in office recall a sex orgy story when addressing a large group of pubescent boy scouts – or egg on a gathering of Long Island police officers to better brutalize the “animals” they arrest as a personal favor to him….
Well, I couldn’t have imagined it. Even in my sickest, most secret fantasy, which, trust me, was quite a bit wilder then than any one is now.
(Note: Oh, and know that there’s nothing wrong with Queens Blvd. real estate sales or slicing pastrami for lunch customers at the local A & P if you at least do it with aplomb and some small measure of decency).
It seems highly unlikely that when F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote his novel The Last Tycoon in the 1930s that he could have ever imagined two crude pinheaded asshats the likes of Scaramucci and Trump in an Oval Office that was for so long occupied by a leader with the brains, stature and heart of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Still, even back then Fitzgerald – not to mention the expanded story in the Amazon series – understood the idea of reinvention and repackaging for the masses. In Fitzgerald’s world, a working class Jewish guy from the Bronx named Milton is enveloped by the biz of show and emerges as a handsome Wasp named Monroe with all the money, gals and glamour you could shake a camera at.
This falls in line with so many of us in the entertainment industry still, people who came from anywhere-but-here to pursue our dreams and mold ourselves into something more than what we were led to believe by the neighborhood bullies that we would ever be.
However what is sobering beyond belief at the moment is that very nitwits we sought to show up have somehow pulled the rug out from under us via their cynical use of media and money in order to run the show as the worst rotting version of their true selves.
Scaramucci came from Wall Street and was a hedge fund manager with reportedly all the baggage and questionable morality those words imply. Trump was the scion of a New York real estate mogul who made money discriminating against minorities and followed his father’s lead making tens of millions by openly refusing to pay vendors for services rendered, declaring no less than five bankruptcies and propping up his flagging empire through an indecipherable (and to date unknowable) web of loans from questionable foreign banks and billionaire oligarchal sources.
This would be enough for another unfinished Fitzgerald-like novel without both of their current third acts. For instead of reinventing themselves in a slicker, more tailored package for the masses, both of these goombas have doubled down on the coarse sociopathic aspects of their torturous personalities.
Trump, in particular, saw an opening among the disenfranchised – both working class and suburban class; religious, traditional-minded and yes, in some cases racist – and packaged himself a super villain torturer of anyone or anything that has ever done them wrong in the past or dares to in the future. The sexism, the cynicism, the racism, the rejection of facts and education for emotion and id marshaled on behalf of the FORGOTTEN.
It’s like having your own PERSONAL BULLY. And who better than an actual bully – the real unleashed Trump of each and every decade gone by, including his adolescence, to play the role? It’s like when they cast Dr. Haing S. Gnor, himself a Cambodian refugee, to play a fictional Cambodian refugee in the 1984 movie The Killing Fields. He was so believable and so riveting that to this day he is still the only Asian American actor to have ever won an Oscar as best supporting actor.
Trump, of course, has graduated to lead actor but sadly this is real life and at this point it seems crystal clear he is not pretending. This is who he is, was and will be and what we see unfolding is what he has wrought.
Which is why this week I preferred just for a few hours to live in a world where a Jewish kid from the boroughs could actually grow up to be smarter and more successful than any American bully imaginable, ruling a make-believe world of the most beautiful dreams imaginable – a place where the good triumphed and the bad guys were captured and then forced to pay the piper instead of preaching from the bully pulpit.
And doing all this — I look exactly like Matt Bomer.
Of course, that is precisely why we need dreams – to aspire to something more – and yes, higher – than what we currently are – as we work towards making that ideal a reality.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words (and likely a thousand blogs). The above picture perfectly captures the feelings of The Chair this week, as he navigates through his own deadlines while keeping up with our current political/pop-culture landscape — a mix of controlled chaos, improvisation, and determination to get it together. That being said, The Chair is taking a well-deserved break to refocus and will be back next week to dissect the spooky, scary world we live in today (this year the “Great Pumpkin” has new meaning).
In the meantime, here are some 1,000 words/blogs worthy photos of the week — though some might say they render them speechless.
The Chair will be live-tweeting all things Emmy tonight (starting at 7pm EST / 4pm PDT), so join in the fun using #GameofChairsEmmys
Tune in Monday for a full Chair Emmy recap — which will hopefully include cheering MARCIA MARCIA MARCIA (#GoSarahPaulson #OJWho).Tweets by @notesfromachair