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

Les Miz, Sean Penn, and 33 years of love

Chair, here.  Quick story –

It was 33 years ago this weekend that my husband and I had our first “date.”  Well, actually it didn’t start out that way. 

I was taking him to a party because a mutual friend of ours in NY told me there was this guy he went to school with who’d just moved to LA to get his PhD in film. 

And he didn’t know many people and he thought we had similar sensibilities.

He emphasized this wasn’t a fix-up, more just a way to show this guy around and introduce him to some friends.

I know I know #duh

That was fine because it’d been more than a year since I extricated myself from a very troubled relationship and had finally decided I was done with dating, commitment phobic men and, um, men in general.

Anyway, my husband rang my doorbell while I was blasting the Les Miserables soundtrack and about to dump the garbage.  When I opened it I remember here was this cute guy in a vintage vest and, well, since I wasn’t dating it really didn’t matter.

Sorry Colm, but you should really hear my “Bring Him Home”

I wasn’t embarrassed in the least.  In fact, I just told him to hold on while I dumped the garbage.

Unbeknownst to me, he loved Les Miz and somehow found my behavior rather charming.

Then, we went to the party.

There were lots of gay men there and I had in advance told the friend of mine who was having this shindig that I was bringing someone new to town that wanted to meet people.  Well, this particular friend took me very seriously and at some point introduced him to a blonde guy his boyfriend knew who worked at a bank, thinking it would be a match.

It was then that I began to get….jealous?

This basically sums it up

But how could that be?  Just because this guy from NY and I were having some fun conversations on the way to this party, following a long talk on the phone a few nights before? 

Oh, whatever.  And who really cares if he is now taking to this blonde guy who works at a bank.  I have loads of good conversations with lots of people.  I’m known for giving good conversation. 

WHAT? Everything IS fine!

In any event, time went by and I mingled with others.  But at various points I kept spying the guy I brought talking on and off to this blonde guy, who truly wasn’t all that good-looking, especially if you didn’t go in for that type.   

In fact, I couldn’t imagine who would.  Not that I really cared. 

Uh oh Chairy #catchingfeelings

But suddenly the group I was talking to was disbanding and I turned and suddenly saw the NY guy I had brought, sort of looking in my general direction.  So I figured this was a cue for me to go over and, well….rescue him???

I did and by that time his group was also dispersing, and that blonde banker (?) along with it.  We talked for a bit, a few people left and somehow this NY guy who could never in a million years be my husband, and I, decided to clear out a bit early.  He looked a bit awkward and bored at that point anyway, and, well, I didn’t want him to feel that way.

It was Saturday night so we decided to take a walk in the only neighborhood in L.A. two gay guys would even think would be fun to walk around in at that time – West Hollywood.

Cue my Grinchy heart growing three times

At which point, I proceeded to answer some of his questions and tell him a bit about myself, what I did and, well…who knows what else.  It was easy to open up to him and I kept thinking, wow, he’s a good listener and I guess he finds this interesting and funny because why else would he keep asking me to keep going and occasionally laugh at my self-deprecating humor?

Of course, he remembers this as mostly a long monologue about a screenplay I was writing at the time that, though he didn’t find uninteresting, seemed beside the point of why we were walking.

Me, but more charming of course

When somehow the walk ended and I drove him back to his small apartment downtown on the USC campus he asked me if I wanted to come upstairs.  Sean Penn, who was then married to Madonna and in the tabloids every other day for punching out paparazzi, was hosting Saturday Night Live that night, and well, for those who weren’t around then, just know this was a potential HUGE event because, well, ANYTHING could happen.

What I learned from that night is that at ANY moment in time ANYTHING can and WILL happen.   And often when you least expect it.

I guess I’m pro Cupid!

Thirty-three years later it might seem a little sad that we are this weekend limited in what we can do for our anniversary in light of the pandemic.  But wouldn’t you know that the gay gods in the universe have provided once again.

They scheduled the fabulous Adele to make her hosting debut on Saturday Night Live where she will step back into the international spotlight for the first time in a long while after a huge weight loss – wearing designer clothes and, no doubt, hawking a bit of her about to be released latest album.

Check and mate.

Life is often perfectly flawed but, let’s face it, sometimes it can be flawlessly perfect. 

And, almost always, at a time when you least expect it.

One Day More – Cast of Les Miserables