Wednesday, June 26, 2013

WARNING: This post may suck

The hardest part of writing a blog is coming up with topics. Once I come up with a decent topic I’m usually off to the races. Today I have no idea what to write. So I thought I would use that as an experiment. Experiment is a nice way of saying I may never do this again. But here’s the plan: I’m going to just start writing, free associating, and just keep going. It may turn out great; It may be the dog's breakfast. But I promise to post this, regardless of the results. And I promise not to go back and do several passes to clean it up. Whattcha see is whattcha get.  You of course, don’t have to stay for the whole thing. You can leave at any time. You might even be saying, “Good luck with your experiment. I’ll check back tomorrow when you’re not flying up your own ass.” That’s fair enough.  But what the hell?   I have no other topic for today so let's give it a shot. 

I sat for the first five minutes just scanning my office looking for objects that might lead to something. How long do you keep magazines? In the bathroom we keep every NEW YORKER but how many ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLYS should I clog up my bookshelf with?  I think I can lose the seventeen issues devoted to TRUE BLOOD.

By the way, they always do that feature SOUND BITES where they paste pictures of actors and give them dialogue bubbles featuring pithy lines they said in their various shows. Hey, EW – writers wrote those lines! Not the actors. That page is terribly misleading and an industry publication should know better. Ever notice the disconnect between the witty things they “say” in SOUND BITES and their acceptance speeches during award ceremonies? Gwyneth Paltrow was in SOUND BITES one time. Come on.

For reasons I can't fathom, I also get FIELD & STREAM every month.  Did one of you readers send that to me as a joke?  Or did I once try to subscribe to TEEN VOGUE and checked the wrong box?   But I am not the outdoor type.  If I ever kill someone and there's an all-points-bulletin out on me, I'll just go to an REI store.  It's the last place anyone would ever look for me.  I can hide out there for twenty years. 

I look forward to my weekly NEW YORKER arriving and the first thing I do is check to see if Paul Rudnick has a humor piece. He’s always funny. As opposed to Lena Dunham who never is. What more proof do we need that she’s the Emperor’s New Clothes than the fact that she is always naked? I then check to see if Anthony Lane did the movie review that week. I choose my favorite film critics not by whether I share their sensibilities but whether they make me laugh. Michael Bay and Oliver Stone were put on this earth for Anthony Lane to critique.

I've submitted a couple of pieces for the Shouts and Murmurs humor section and never even got a rejection letter. Lena Dunham can send in her grocery list and that they’ll print.

There’s a small movie I saw recently called FRANCES HA, written by Noah Baumbach & Greta Gerwig and directed by Noah Baumbach. It’s a modest little black-and-white trifle starring Gerwig as a young single woman trying to find her place in Manhattan. It’s GIRLS without the sodomy. I got bored the second half when nothing really happened, but I appreciated the dialogue and glimpse into that world. To me it felt way more realistic than GIRLS. Ironically, Adam Driver, the guy who plays Lena's sadistic (excuse me, artistic) boyfriend is also in this film. He’s nicer though, and by that I mean he doesn’t make his date crawl around on all-fours and masturbate on her. In other words, he doesn’t get to play “comedy” like he does in GIRLS (the Golden Globe winner for “Best Comedy of the Year.”).

Let’s see if it even gets nominated for Best Comedy Emmy. My guess is it won’t – funny as forced anal sex may be. There will be MODERN FAMILY, BIG BANG THEORY, LOUIE (all three very deserving), and since it’s the final year of THE OFFICE and 30 ROCK, those might get sentimental nods. But the audience is quite divided on GIRLS… and ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT for that matter. The hardcore AD fans were thrilled with the deliciously intricate new Netflix season while many others were so confused they had to be re-taught how to brush their teeth. Shows that should get nominated (and probably won't) are PARKS AND RECREATION and here’s one out of leftfield – THE MIDDLE. Watch THE MIDDLE. It’s not cool and sexy but it’s funny and is actually about something. Same show but starring Louis C.K. and it gets nominated every year. Maybe even wins.

And speaking of winning -- congratulations to my alma matter, UCLA for winning the national championship in baseball last night.  Fuck football.  

Okay, that should fill out one rambling post. I hope this experiment worked because it was kind of fun to do.   And if it didn’t, well… think of me as Wile E. Coyote stepping off the cliff and walking five or six steps in mid-air until I realize it and then…………………………….. poof.


46 comments:

EileenK said...

Thumbs up! Great post.

Pete Grossman said...

This takes balls to do. Congrats on an unrefined rant.

Kathy said...

That's the reason I never blog. I can never think of something to write about, so all of my posts end up meandering like this. Not that this was bad. I agree wholeheartedly with the Emperor Has No Clothes thing.

Wile E. Coyote said...

And remember, always carry your "BYE" sign.

DwWashburn said...

On the subject of magazines, my EW takes about 30 minutes to read, then the address label is snipped off and the magazine goes into the commons area at my office.

On the subject of lines being accredited to characters, you might be looking at this from a writer's point of view. I love the Marx Brothers and the Three Stooges. Whenever I quote a line from one of their films I never say "Harry Ruby said. . " or "Jack White said. . " No, it's always "Groucho said . ." or "Shemp said . ." etc. Same with action films. When you talk about them you never praise the editing department or special effects. You always talk about the film. I can see your point, I just think it's unrealistic.

Tudor Queen said...

I've adored Anthony Lane since his gut-splittingly funny review of "Braveheart" several years ago. I assume, since you are so devoted to him and to The New Yorker, that you've read it, but if not, look it up. I only wish the movie itself had given me a tenth of the entertainment value.

Mac said...

Well I enjoyed it but don't take my word for it as I have ADD, so anything that deviates from a consistent train of thought is fine by me.

Also I enjoy 'Girls' getting slagged off from an authoritative source. The number of articles I've read that celebrate it's "groundbreaking" female empowerment blah blah blah when all we give a shit about is - is it funny? (No. It's not.)

That apart, I'd be interested to see what you think of "This Is The End," which is being hailed as both the "return to form" for the Apatow stable, and of their style of humour going out with a bang. And of course for being forty minutes longer than it needs to be. Anyway, if you do catch it, I'd love to know what you think.

Dave Denholm said...

Couldn't agree more with you on "The Middle", Ken. Best comedy on TV right now!

Carol said...

I thought your ramblings were quite entertaining.

Maybe next time you can do a drunk post. Those are fun, too. Especially when you go back and read them when you are sober.

Did you see Joss Wheadon's version of Much Ado About Nothing? Also a small, black and white film. Excellent, excellent movie. But hd did have a good writer.

Michael said...

I think we may have found Andy Rooney's successor.

I submitted a piece to The New Yorker that I thought, modestly, fit them perfectly: a memoir about a Harvard history professor named Charlie Sheen. Not even an email or a note. At least when you submit an op-ed to a big newspaper, they say, if you don't hear from us in a certain amount of time, it's been rejected.

Harkaway said...

I noticed in the obit for Elliot Reid in today's NYTimes that he had written for AfterMash at one point. I wondered if you might have something to offer on actors who turn to screenwriting. You don't have to comment on Elliot Reid, but perhaps you could talk about actors who write, not for the show they are on, but for other projects.

Mike Barer said...

Nic Wallenda, George Zimmer, George Zimmerman, Paula Deen. Thank you for not writing about them!

Chicago Pinot said...

>>But the audience is quite divided >>on GIRLS… and ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT >>for that matter.

Not debating its merits, but is it even clear that Arrested Development is even Emmy-eligbile? Does Netflix count as an official network?

jbryant said...

Haven't read Lena Dunham's "New Yorker" stuff, but I like GIRLS. As to whether it's funny--I think it is, when it's trying to be. Not all of it is intended to be comedy. But it would be absurd to categorize it as a drama for award nomination purposes. I don't recall much hand-wringing over "dramedies" like THE DAYS AND NIGHTS OF MOLLY DODD being classified as a comedy come nomination time. I believe one-hour comedy-dramas such as ALLY MCBEAL, DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES and GLEE have been consigned to the Comedy category in years past.

Mac: FYI, THIS IS THE END is only 107 minutes long. Are people really saying it feels as long as, say, THIS IS 40? Didn't feel overly long to me. Also, as you probably know, even though the film features many actors from "the Apatow stable," Apatow himself was not involved. I thought the film was very funny, but since I also laugh at the comedy portions of GIRLS, I suppose I'm wrong.

Tom Quigley said...

Your second graphic of Wile E. Coyote hitting the canyon floor "SPLAT!" made me think that that was the same reason Nik Wallenda's walk drew record numbers of viewers for the Discovery Channel Sunday night.

In a moment of dark humor I envisioned it happening and the Warner Bros. Road Runner stopping next to him, letting out a quick "Neep neep!" and blasting away in a cloud of dust...

CSL said...

Think the "experiment" worked! It wasn't a game (or blog) changer. It felt like your personal-rant (a Ken-rant). You didn't need the "spoiler alert", if your readers don't like the blog they'll just have to tough it out & come back tomorrow.

Tim W. said...

Interesting fact: A coyote actually runs faster than a road runner, so basically my entire childhood was a lie.

An Emmy Voter said...

@jbryant: Yup, I especially remember "Desperate Housewives" appearing on the Emmy ballot as a comedy series after its first season. It was a category I happened to be judging that year. After viewing all the nominees I thought it was indeed a desperate attempt to win an award. If memory serves, they won that most prestigious of awards, the Golden Globe, in January, so I guess they thought momentum was on their side--which I suppose the nomination sort of validated (at least in their eyes). But man, oh, man, it sure wasn't a comedy and I ranked it dead last. Looking back, I'd put it on the list of other howl-fests like "Nurse Jackie" and "Girls" and yes, "Molly Dodd." I remember reading about Rosalind Russell refusing to be listed in the supporting category for "Picnic" just so she could win an Oscar. Maybe that was vanity of a different kind ("I'm a star, damn it!") but it sure beats the vanity of wanting an award so badly that
producers will look for a (supposedly) less competitive category just to win. Ah, it's a grand business we're in. I love award season(s). We learn so much.

Mike Shannon Drayer said...

Bravo Zulu! It's your blog, you do whatever you want!

Also, Congrats to the Bruins and the Pac-12 or whatever number they are this week. Should've been an all-Pac-12 final, but those darn Beavers...!

Who'd a thunk at this point of the season, the PITTSBURGH PIRATES would have the 2nd best record in baseball? Only 2 teams are over the .600 mark, and they're in the same division, the kind of luck the Pirates have. I've seen every Orioles-Pirates World Series, and wouldn't mind seeing another one.

Off to the john...wonder what happened to my FIELD & STREAM!

Great Big Radio Guy said...

I was hoping to add a great suggestion, but Carol beat me to it. Yes. A drunk post. This was fun and very entertaining, but alcohol can really make it unravel.

I'd love to see what you say about Lena Dunham in that.

Terry Benish said...

Enjoyed this. Just think if you were writing about the Mariners every day. You'd be searching for words like shitty and cursed and bad decisions over and over again...how many ands is that? Rizzs is only redeeming thing on both broadcasts and it's because I've been listening to him for decades. Peace...

Ron Rettin said...

I received a very nice rejection letter from the New Yorker as a 14 year old in 1957. It was a grade school project to submit something to a local paper, etc. I liked reading the New Yorker so I set my childish poem to it. The rejection was on very nice heavy bond stationery and was actually signed.

RareWaves said...

I like the way your mind works, so I tend to find all your work enjoyable.

But as others have mentioned, a "My Drunk Post" blog entry might be interesting. Or... you could write a series of "drunk" posts and we would have to guess if you were really drunk when you wrote it or if you were sober but just "writing as drunk." It could be fun. There could be prizes.

Charles Warn said...

this blog experiment is smile worthy several times proving that plans are superfluous to comedy; your Dunham problem made me feel vaguely uncomfortable like sitting in someone's shrink session but I feel the same way whenever I punch up Girls on demand to prove my boomer hipness to myself even if I can no longer look Brian Williams in the eye.

Gary said...

Very nice. Was better than most of the lifestyle columns in national papers. Oh, and agree, The Middle is awesome.

Eric J said...

I don't get it. Looks like all your blogs except you forgot to plug your book. I was entertained. I learned a little. I got what I come here for.

Harold X said...

I gave up on "Girls" after a couple of episodes. Of course as an aging male, I'm hardly its target audience.

That said, I think that this essay she wrote for The Criterion Collection* pretty amusing, splooge and all.

* they ask celebrities to choose favorites from their catalog

RyderDA said...

Where's the photo of Natalie Wood?

MJ said...

when it's really quiet, there's always the "how do I get an agent" or "can I use we see/hear" debate for scripts. But this is plainly better.

RCP said...

I've also had a couple of magazine subscriptions appear out of the blue - including Working Mother. A joke to a He-Man like myself.

More of your 'ramblings' please!

Jeffrey Mark said...

Speaking of Wile E. Coyote, I just saw the brilliant one with Wile E. dressed in a female road runner disguise. The nano second he shows up about a billion coyotes - all looking the same - immediately come out of the woodwork with their knives and forks ready to move in on ol' Wile E. Perfection.

Charles H. Bryan said...

Shared love for Anthony Lane. It was his review of the 1998 Godzilla that made me a fan.

I can't remember which issue of EW made me not a fan -- it may have been one where a book review started by calling Hemingway overrated, it may have been having to deal with too much Ryan Reynolds on a cover -- but after subscribing for years I let it expire. I don't miss it much; if I need a Ken Tucker fix I can get it through the EW website. I can make up my own lists of 25 this or 50 that.

Also, Ken, it's not so much the subject matter that leads me to read your blog, it's how you write about it. This was great. However, I do also like the Natalie Wood photos. Always enjoyable.

Rob said...

Thank you for finally speaking up for "The Middle".

Hawkeye Pierce on Field & Stream: "I'd rather see a naked girl than a canoe built in a dentist's garage"

Liggie said...

Every blogger/columnist goes though this lack of ideas. The late Lewis Grizzard, a humor columnist in the 1980s and early '90s, said he once was reduced to writing about the hair growing in his ears.

vernonlee said...

My favorite ever quote from an Anthony Lane review -- about Mission: Impossible 2 (which was abbreviated throughout per its marketing recommendation to M:i-2:

If you love the guy [Cruise], this is your picture, but if you like your thrills more evenly spread, here is the bad news: "M-i:2" is N: f-ing: G.

So good!

Cartoon Critic said...

Speaking of the emperor having no clothes, I think that applies to a majority of the New Yorker cartoons.

D. McEwan said...

In my enormous walk-in bedroom closet (I swear it's at least half as big as my bedroom) there must be ten years worth of old Entertainment Weeklys. Why? Because I discovered the hard way an Immutable Law of Nature: if I throw an issue out, that will be the very issue that, five months later, I'll want to consult.

Count me among Paul Rudnick's fans. (and he runs columns in Entertainment Weekly also, as "Libby Gelman-Waxner.") Back in 1995, I played the ghost of John Barrymore in his hilarious play: I Hate Hamlet out in Riverside. I ended up winning two awards for it, an "Inland Theater League Award" (Presented to me by Miss Betty Garrett!) and the theater's own "Scottie" Award for "Best Performance by an Actor for the 1995-'96 season." In my acceptance speech, I said: "This award belongs to Paul Rudnick, though I'm keeping it. All I did was memorize his dialogue and speak it clearly in the corrrect order. Anyone who does that will win awards."

Years ago, I subscribed to a couple magazines whose primary features were naked photos of extremely attractive men. Thanks to internet porn, both magazines went out-of-business before my subscriptions expired, so instead of refunding what was left of my money, they "transferred" both of my remaining subscriptions to a non-pornographic magazine they publish titled OUT. Years ago, I had had a subscription to OUT for a single year. I'd found it a bore and never renewed it.

When the transferred subscription was nearing its end, they naturally sent me numerous re-subscription offers, and I ignored all of them. When it did finally ruin out, they sent me a note saying they were "Gifting" me with a free new subscription to it. (So how big a chump would I have been to send them money to resubscribe?)

That was three years ago. Every year, when it runs out, they give me another free subscription to it. I haven't given them a cent in 5 years, and I'm still receiving this magazine I do not want. Well, at least there are no old issues of it in my closet.

Joey H said...

I enjoyed the free association, but I do agree that a Natalie Wood photo would have been an appropriate accompaniment.

Bruce P said...

My wife watches "The Middle" but I have always thought it was cruel to laugh at the mentally challenged. There is not a character on that show that is played by a regular cast member that should not be institutionalized.

Roger Owen Green said...

It didn't suck. Except for no Natalie wood pic.

Cap'n Bob said...

I liked this and envy you the ability to make bricks without straw. Yeah, I don't see you as a guy likely to be found in a field or stream. Too bad there isn't one called Deli & Multiplex.

A_Homer said...

Being as you are an improv fan, I would think you could develop this further with some guidelines just like improv has. I would prefer to see how you could creatively connect some different things - three images from tv shows you like, etc.. I don't mind to see you stretching out one day a week for the sake of just experimenting. Personally, as a reader I was glad not to see you default to yet another Natalie Wood photo. As for Lena D. --- really, just walk away from her Ken.

Greg Ehrbar said...

Very enjoyable. A rant is fine when it's well written and the points are well taken.

Don't know much of the Dunham oeuvre. I'll bet she's no JoAnn Plfug.

JFK's spectacular speeches were written by Ted Sorenson. So the impact is a combination of writing and delivery. When EW shows these quotes in print, you don't get the delivery, so it's is odd. I usually see if there's a Libby Gelman-Waxman essay.

Did you know they Stage One at the Walt Disney Studios was just renamed The Annette Funicello Stage? They filmed the Mickey Mouse Club there. Sorry, now I am a little verklempt...

Sam said...

I agree with you about the New Yorker stuff. The fact that Mindy Kaling got something published in there has been motivating for me. (I mean, I read her book--or at least, I tried to. WOW!--and I don't mean that in a good way.) If Mindy can make it in the New Yorker, maybe I can, too! (Ha Ha!)

Paul said...

Ken, really enjoy your blog. Not sure if you've seen this GIRLS Season 38 video with Laraine Newman and Wendie Malick, but based on your antipathy for the show, I think you'd enjoy it.

http://youtu.be/iNCnu66tybY

Johnny Walker said...

Very brave!

Here's my unedited, stream-of-consciousness response: I'm tired and can't be bothered to type anymore.