Loving the Ricardos

I’m a college professor and a writer so no matter how hard of a professional day I have, let’s face it, I’m not working in the mines. 

Please don’t share that with my college’s senior leadership team or any producer, director or editor I might work with in the future.

Even though deep down they know the same applies to them.

#WriterLife

Nevertheless, it’s hell out there these days, isn’t it?  Or some human replica of what we imagine it to be.   

In a few weeks we’ll be going into our third calendar year of the COVID pandemic.  Though three doses of either a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine (Note: The third being your all important booster shot) can pretty much ensure you of not dying, becoming hospitalized or even seriously ill with this potential demon only 30% of the country have so far been boosted.

Don’t ask me why, that’s way above my pay grade.  Though if you press me I’ll say stupidity, stubbornness and willful ignorance, not necessarily in that order.

Yes, Grandma, they are.

To give you an idea of how infectious the new Omicron variant is, New York State set a record of 21,027 new cases on Thursday, the single HIGHEST number since this all began almost three calendar years ago.  (Note: Didn’t I just bring up those THREE calendar years?  Well, I’m doing it again).

There are all kinds of other statistics but perhaps none as sobering as almost 5.4 million deaths worldwide, including 805,000 in the U.S.  The numbers continue to go up and if you continue to be unvaccinated know hell is no longer just waiting for you outside your door but finding better and more clever ways to vaporize itself beneath it and into your system even as I write.

Just call him Omicron

This is why everyone needs to do TWO things this Christmas season.

#1 – GET YOUR F’N VACCINE.

And —

#2 – Watch BEING THE RICARDOS either at the movie theatre wearing a mask, or at home on Amazon beginning Tuesday, Dec. 21st.

You didn’t think we were going down that road, did you?

Wait, really?

But we are taking that turn because you and I and everyone we know is tired of talking about COVID and all of the things we can’t, shouldn’t or should do.  In fact, we’re going out of our f’n minds doing so.

Broadway is closing down left and right, local theatre the same.  Sporting events are getting cancelled or postponed and if you’re going to be attending a music concert in these winter months inside, good luck to you.

No, seriously, good luck.  You’ll need it.

Best wishes from Katniss

However, the one thing we can do is sit at home and partake in that age-old American tradition of watching a movie. 

The entertainment industry is trying to get us all to go out but, with infection numbers spiking so much in just two weeks PRIOR to Christmas, it’s getting more and more unlikely there is going to be a rush to anything at your local theatres.

EXCEPT for the new Spiderman: No Way Home, which broke box office records this weekend because we live in a sick world where the idea of watching a superhero is far more appealing to the American public than actually being one in real life by getting a f’n vaccine.

I mean he is so cute

But if you are actually an adult tired of all that, or a kid or adult like me who was never into superheroes (Note: Except the campy 1960s TV series Batman, which really doesn’t count because Tallulah Bankhead, Eartha Kitt, Victor Buono and Caesar Romero as super villains is too good to turn down), Being The Ricardos will momentary take your mind off of it all.

Not that writer-director Aaron Sorkin’s smart, fast-talking and clever take on the private and professional lives of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz – or as we still know them, Lucy and Ricky Ricardo of I Love Lucy fame- isn’t both super and heroic in its own way.

Super Lucy!

In fact, it is at times both serious and affecting.  But it is also always entertaining, thoroughly watchable and a marvel.  The latter is because somehow Mr. Sorkin has managed to throw us back into the 1950s via what is probably the most famous television series in history and yet somehow not get swallowed up by the legend of it all.

He’s is helped greatly by Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem, who so manage to evoke the spirits of Lucy and Desi onscreen that it’s as if you’re eavesdropping on the better, mover clever version of every conversation, seduction and argument they’d tried to ever have but likely never literally ever had.

Thanks for the rave review!

This is what writing teachers and critics and writers like myself preach when we say that the work should evoke real life without ever literally being real life. 

This is because real life doesn’t happen in three-act structure and can often have endless deadly dull moments in the space of two hours. 

Films, on the other hand, can use those two hours to tell the story of a year, a month, or – in the case of Being the Ricardos – a key week in your life.  And they can do this by showcasing the spirit of your truth in a much more entertaining way than a bunch of cinema verite home movies that you personally shot or even lived could ever hope to do.

Get Back shade?

Movies, at their best, can capture the magic we know sometimes happens in life, with all the good and bad our humanity offers.  And with the right combination of artists and technicians they can also harness all that passion and verve we humans get to experience in a way that reminds us of who we are in those times, at times like these, where it’s easy to forget.

It helps that I Love Lucy still cracks me up and was one of my favorite shows as a kid.  But that’s not truly why I’m on the Ricardo/Sorkin soapbox at the moment.

No one like her!

It’s because for two hours the creative team behind this film made me forget how absolutely screwed up everything is at the moment by telling me a story about a fictional week in the lives of a couple of Americans where absolutely everything was also screwed up for them.

Yeah, it was literally quite different.  But screwed up is screwed up.

AND it made me laugh, forget and finally feel something other than COVID-stark raving madness while doing it.

Just in time for Christmas!

If that’s not the best holiday present you can give yourself in the next two weeks, I got nothin’ else.

But know you certainly won’t get it from The Power of the Dog, despite what every major film critics association want you to believe and labor with.

Meow.

But I’m right.

Being the Ricardos Trailer

The Golden Zooms

The bar wasn’t very high for the 78th annual Golden Globe Awards and, clearly, that’s the way the members of the Hollywood Foreign Press like it.

In fact, co- hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler literally joked to us in TV promos leading up to Sunday’s ceremonies:

The stakes have never been lower!

Followed by:

Come on, you need this as much as we do.

You know it!

By any definition these awards are now, have been, and always will be, the equivalent of three slices of sheet cake after an 18-hour nightmare day of zoom calls.

Certainly there’s nothing wrong with that.  We all need our stress relievers.  Be they desserts, drugs, one-night stands or a triple margarita dinner. 

But in the halcyon non-pandemic, pre-insurrection days some or all of those would have followed a bad shift at work or seeing your ex at the movie theatre with a ridiculously hot new squeeze.

Not a year’s plus worth of semi-isolation, mask wearing (note: or defiance) and near encounters with armed government or citizen militia.

Not great… not great

This automatically elevates each guilty pleasure we now choose.  I mean, if you’re gonna devour three pieces of a tacky cake it better well g-d damned be sugary, chocolately and stick to your mouth buttery.

In the same way, if you willingly decide to spend three hours plus in front of your TV screen watching celebrities accept awards voted on by a bizarre group of 87 international entertainment journalists, none of whom are Black (Note: As we were continuously reminded of all during the show), well that show better darn well be as cheesy, hilarious and train wreck dramatic as an episode of anything you could watch anywhere else on TV during the past year.

You know, the awards show equivalent of Nicole Kidman (and her coats) in The Undoing

Which is, well, quite A LOT.

Given that very high LOW BAR, this year’s Globes were a bit of a… letdown. 

Oh sure, they weren’t entirely half-bad.  Many deserving film and TV artists won and both Tina and Amy snuck in a few clever bon mots.  (Note: They even enabled the perfect Maya Rudolph to cleverly wander onto the stage in full diva drag).

Not to mention, there were some lovely speeches from two legends: 98 year-old Norman Lear (Note: Laughter and family is the key to longevity, folks) and 83 year-old Jane Fonda (Note: Art historically leads our way so it must include diverse voices).

Hollywood royalty (and Jane, girl, you have never looked better)

And the heartfelt words of Chadwick Boseman’s widow, Simone Ledward Boseman, tearfully accepting his posthumous best actor honor for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom:

He would say something beautiful, something inspiring, something that would amplify that little voice inside of all of us that tells you, ‘You can,’ that tells you to keep going, that calls you back to what you are meant to be doing…”

Still, given all of our current circumstances their words were ultimately dwarfed by the smallness of these awards from this very dubious of organizations.  Especially when it is compared to the largeness of the disorganization we are all experiencing daily in these strange end of times we’ve all been living through.

This feels right

So as much as I was personally thrilled for Andra Day’s win as best actress for resurrecting the spirit of Billie Holiday in The United States Vs. Billie Holiday, or the great Aaron Sorkin being rewarded for yet another seemingly unadaptable story with his screenplay for The Trial of the Chicago Seven, I couldn’t help but wonder –

Why the hell am I watching three hours of celebrity zoom clips masquerading as a prime-time network TV special controlled by a group of people I and many of these recipients have little or no real respect for?

Too much?

Is this exaggeration? 

Jason’s sweatshirt sums it up pretty well

Well, maybe just a little bit.  Amy and Tina were live on different coasts.  Jane joined Amy live at the Beverly Hilton and presenters such as Chris Meloni (Note: Yes, SVU’s Stabler is back on NBC April 1st and No, that’s not April Fools) joined Tina live at NYC’s famed Rainbow Room.

In addition, a few real-life celeb couple presenters like Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon and Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, showed up non-socially distanced/actually touching in an effort to help us remember that human beings can still stand skin to skin in real time and in real life, live or even on a stage.

Was I expecting this? #mybrainisbroken

Still, these moments were few and far between. All other presenters went solo.  And those others who were close and unmasked could only be viewed in their homes or in a hotel room via another dreaded Zoom shot.  (Note: And by this time we all have learned to be suspect at the very sight of any person, place or thing that instantly pops up at us via a platform as fuzzy as that).

Is the Chair losing patience with all of this after more than year and taking it out on the Globes???  Or just lost it??

 Of course he is!!  And has!!

CHAIRY! Stay calm! Think about Jodi Foster’s dog!!!

But when you’re promised sheet cake and still get nothing more than a continuation of the very enlarged computer screen you’ve come there to avoid, then what else can you expect???

The following is a list of this year’s Golden Globe Winners:

“I’m So Tired” – The Beatles