Sunday, March 02, 2014

2014 Week 9 Roundup: Farewell to a Brief, Busy Month

Thoughts on the frozen first Sunday in March....

I don’t watch network TV evening news every night but when I do, without fail, the top story is always This Horrible Winter Weather. Is Venezuela even a country as far as these people are concerned? The effort one has to put in to get one bit of propaganda or another about that situation hardly seems worth it. Imagine, and entire country in turmoil—and all we can do is bitch about how cold it is on our national “news.”

Ukraine seems more agreeable for mention by the U.S. propaganda machine because it’s all white people, not rich white people looking to take stuff away from the poorer brown people. Also, it looks like the European Union oligarchs have seized power, which the U.S. approves, so let’s call it a heroic victory for the people. Or something. I laughed when President Obama said there would be “costs” for any Russian intervention. All a classic, ice-blooded Russian Tzar in a gray suit like Vladimir Putin hears is, “I double-dog dare you!” Assuming he even thinks about the blustering of an overextended, badly managed, degraded and depraved oligarchy like the U.S.A. Which, I’m willing to bet, he does. For all of one moment, before dismissing it with a chuckle. 

Anyway fuck the news this week. Just fuck it. I need to put myself on a media blackout diet. I’m rather leaning that way anyhow.
The view in my back yard this morning after a night of heavy, freezing fog. Obviously, I’ve got a lot of cleaning up to do as it gets warmer, so winter can take its sweet time as far as I’m concerned.

I feel compelled to say something about last night’s Saturday Night Live, which I could only tolerate in small doses before giving up altogether. I’d watched it because Jim Parsons was hosting, and I’m a fan of the character he plays on The Big Band Theory, the superintelligent, yet hilariously neurotic man-child Dr. (“I have two PhDs”) Sheldon (“I’m not crazy. My mother had me tested!”) Cooper.

It wasn’t just the awful writing, the impossible-to-sit-through sketches that went on for-fucking-ever. It was seeing the shockingly limited range of the actor playing the signature character of network TV’s number one rated comedy. Ironically, Parsons’ opening monologue featured a song called “I’m Not That Guy,” by which he meant he wasn’t Sheldon Cooper. Whatever guy he plays, however, has that same affected tone of voice and is absolutely impossible to imagine as heterosexual male. I expected much more, but this is a one-note actor.

The musical guest was Beck, and I was curious about his performance as his current album is supposed to be something of a sequel to his 2003 masterpiece Sea Change. (Kinda sad you have to go back 10 years for an echo of glories past, but hey, it was a great album.) His voice was goosed to ridiculous levels with reverb, in what I’m guessing was an attempt at a ‘60s retro sound, which Beck dabbles in from time to time. Whatever the case, I couldn’t sit all the way through it. The song was graceless and annoying, his performance flat.

Sea Change was written and performed in the aftermath of a bad breakup. Just as Dylan eventually succumbed to born-again Christianity in the wake of his breakup masterpiece, Blood on the Tracks, Beck fell into Scientology. I can’t help but wonder if that didn’t affect him somewhat. Anyway, Beck’s new material is awful. Forget it.

For all this bitchin’ and fussin’ the least I can do is put up a pretty
picture. Art by Bill Randall, 1959, courtesy of The Pin-up Files.
If Seth Meyers could be a little hard to take as the “Weekend Update” anchor, the new guy in after the hiatus is insufferable. Zero personality, not even an annoying one. Zero voice, zero projection, zero presence. It astounds me he even was considered for this job. Of course, his female co-host, who has been doing this for a year or so (and I still don’t remember her name) just smirks through it all like a poor man’s Tina Fey. And, yeah, fuck me, but Tina Fey is overrated.

What the hell. Saturday Night Live has been coasting on past glories for decades now. No sense in violating my Lincoln’s Birthday resolution carping further about it. Let it be declared that this show, while it had its moments, no longer has those moments, and it will never have those moments ever again. The cast is awful and the writing is worse. Saturday Night Live is now completely, utterly unwatchable.

I’m still getting over a two-pots-of-coffee marathon that kept me up from 7:30 a.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Saturday morning. I clicked into my Outlook app for the first time in weeks and see where someone (I’m erring on the side of protecting their privacy) sent me a PayPal donation a week ago. Whoa!

Like Derek Grace towards the end of Grace Among the Dead I’m realizing people are pulling for me. It’s the least I can do to show up for work. 

Here’s hoping the first week of March is by turns productive, revelatory, inspiring and energizing. As long as we get out and meet it all halfway, I think we’re gonna be all right.