Thursday, March 5, 2009

As the Germans Say, Nine

As is frequently the case, when I woke up today, it was a brand new day. The sun was already shining, the sky was an unusually clear postcard blue, and the coffee came easy. A good start turned great when the radio brought me gifts from what must be some supreme cosmic radio dial - “Jump” by the Pointer Sisters, and “Big Country” by Big Country. Both songs could accurately be described as “my jams” by virtue of their failsafe ability to move me to sing along loudly, dance along wildly, and proclaim, “THAT is my JA-AA-AM!!!” to anyone who may or may not be listening.
My commute had changed. Yesterday’s misery freeway was today’s hell-yeah highway. Another case of the ole’ what you need when you need its if I do say so myself (ref. day 8). Already contemplating what to write about in today’s crockpot, I decided that having identified my F.O.O. problem, I could now remove it from conversation entirely. It is a known entity, and no longer needs to be a topic of crockpot discussion. Therefore, Opprobrium, consider thyself banish’ed from the confines of this stew! I will see you later after doing something worth a damn! And then something not!

Allow me, for a moment, to proclaim my love of television, without really counting the ways. There really is not an adequate forum in which to do so, so deep and abiding are my feelings for television programming. It would take all of the remaining 31 days, and probably the majority of Ordinary Time on the Catholic calendar to do so. And even then, I’d probably make additions. Just know that as one who loves television, I have strong feelings when good television goes bad. Presently, this phenomenon is occurring on one American Idol.

Now before we go ahead and declare opprobrium (darn! It’s almost banish’ed), let me be the first to say that it is not actual good television. It is a singing competition reality show, the fanbase of which I joined as a result of my interest in gambling on the outcome of said competition. It is also the most heavy-handed marketing-laden infomercial imaginable for its sponsors Coca-Cola (delicious) and Ford (they could use a top 40 hit right now). I vividly remember getting in a fight with a dear, innocent friend who refused to grasp the full weight of capitalism’s influence when I insisted that the couches used on Idol in season 3 or 4 were designed to display the Coca-Cola contour, that iconic white curve on the side of every can. He thought it was just couches. You don’t patent a contour and nearly single-handedly invent globalization to let marketing opportunities like furniture design pass by unseized. We settled our argument by having a Coke and a smile.

Anyway, I insist that I still understand the show to be the crap-parade of majority no talent ass clown performers and that I have yet to form any true attachment to any of them. The one noticeable exception to this is Bucky Convington.

I was putty in his aw shucks hands from the word y’all, y’all.

How am I not yet a Buckaneer!?!

In any event, this season the show has completely lost its Ford Focus and changed both its format and its line-up of judges, making it nigh impossible for viewers to create lasting attachments to any contestant, thereby rendering it nigh impossible to guesstimate the whims of the emotions of the American public and then rank my best guesses at their favorite singers for gambling purposes. Without this crucial element, ALL BETS ARE OFF. Literally! How am I supposed to win money guessing America's voting preference for contestants if we don’t even know who any of these singers are after weeks of the show being on two nights a week for hours on end? And by adding a fourth judge to the equation to legitimize and/or squash Paula Abdul’s comments and/or drug-induced hallucinations, the show has killed its own characters! The judges’ dynamic has totally changed, and suddenly, I don’t know or care about anyone on this program. Without characters, good or bad, television is not worth watching. Idol may as well be sponsored by New Coke this season, so intensely have they gone about introducing a new formula when the original formula dominated television ratings like Martha Stewart at a napkin folding contest. No competition.

The frustration of this completely unprompted format change led me to consider the one person on the show whose whole character was to not have any discernible character. The puppeteer moving the plotlines forward and drawing out every last ounce of interesting from all those contestants, while keeping the judges in balance, himself a likable non-entity, and everyone from camera to coke cup moving in lockstep march in through the rough road of live television – Ryan Fucking Seacrest.

It was only when I really began watching the show for gambling and the enjoyment of the company of friends doing the same (under the hard cover of the euphemism “book club” which we use to explain our evening exploits to our friends and loved-ones), that I realized the genius of Ryan Seacrest. I originally thought he was a smiley twit. Now I think he’s the hardest working man in show biz. He has like, seven daily jobs. And many of them involve live broadcasts and making terribly uninteresting people palatable to the world at large. Genius. As I’ve said before, and will say again on the off-hand chance that Ryan Seacrest stumbles into the crockpot one day while looking up fish recipes (may God make it so!), I would LOVE to write his autobiography. And yes I know I said autobiography. But that’s sometimes how these things go. When would he find the time? Why not borrow a scribe? My depiction would be generous, and his childhood would be very happy.

Given my high esteem for Seacrest, I began to wonder what he would say, if we could get to him off the record, about the changes on his show, and his new role as casual pal to contestants. A host of questions – the Ryan Seacrest Story.

Excerpt from the Diary of Ryan Seacrest – March 5, 2009
Dictated from Elliptical machine to personal secretary, Patsy

Ok, I’m at level nine, now’s a good time to talk but we may have to cut it short when I get back up to level fifteen. Like everything else in life, these quads take work.
Am I pissed about the show? Yeah, you could say that. Which one? Idooollll, Patsy, have any of my other shows taken dives worse than the Louganis header recently?
I’m sorry, Patsy. You’re right, that was needlessly sharp. No, you’re not producing the show. Yes, yes you do help me every day in every way. Yes, Patsy, I know I don’t appreciate you enough. But come on, you know I do. There’s that smile I love.
Anyway, the show – yeah I guess you could call it frustrating, to put it mildly. The producers have gone out and practically hunted down a shark for us to jump. I imagine Nigel, and Simon, and probably a Ford exec, the way those guys have gone about turning Detroit into land beyond the thunderdome, on a dinky fishing boat, looking for a new-and-improved Jaws themselves. Guess what dicks, that shark EATS people before they take it down, so don’t make me your chum. What? No that was only two references. Three? Oh, Fonzie, Mad Max AND Jaws, you’re right. Well who CARES if that confuses people, this is my diary, right? I’m only having you write it because I’m running an Oscar fashion recap chat room while my tip frosting sets later today, or I’d do it then, but it’s still personal communication. Everyone doesn’t have to get it all the time. This is not one of my usual gigs.

Ugh, I’m taking this bitch up to 11, hang onto your hat! I know you’re not wearing a hat, Patsy. It’s an express- never mind.

Moving on. Yeah I’m pissed at everyone on the show. I mean did we really need to go messing with a show that pulled in Who Shot JR-level ratings twice a week? Is that smart executive producing? Not from my experience. Right now aside from this, everything I’ve got is riding on Kim Kardashian’s ass. And yes, I know that it’s enough ass for everything to ride it, probably twice, but really, if she gets a ring from Reggie Bush that ass is officially tapped. People will find a new back to back, and I’ll be back after the break kissing the asses of the morons of L.A. on KIIS f.m. for the next 20 years. Do you think I want to sleep three and three quarters hours a night to do all these shows? Do you think I like sleeping in an oxygen chamber? Well I don’t. Turns out every now and then I’d like to stay home and get drunk alone while eating a bag of Fritos and watching Monday Night Football or the Mentalist. Yeah, I said Monday night football. Surprised? Thought I was gay? That dead horse is about the only thing Idol did keep this season. If I hear one more Seacrest out joke, I swear to God, someone is going to die. Maybe not immediately, and maybe I’ll wait until we have a draft of a script ready to stage a really fantastic live television moment in which I lose my shit and then find redemption afterward, but mark my words, it will happen. And yeah, so what if the Mentalist has an amazing jaw line and I may or may not have a poster of him looking like he knows what I’m thinking in my dressing room, but SO WHAT. At least one person on this planet should know what I’m thinking. I’m paid to make sure no one does. I’m professionally charming and non-judgmental for hire. Did I want to tell Brad and Angelina that I hoped they got typhoid, or worse yet, a management deal with whoever has dibs on Dustin Diamond's career? Yeah. But that’s not what I’m paid to do. That’s not what the training was about. The discipline. The hours of practice forcing my body to reabsorb sweat before it was visible on the skin, literally overcoming my own humanity for the embellishment of the humanity of these famous, these anointed, these beautiful people. Guess what Angie? You’re scary! I’m glad you didn’t talk to me, I’m afraid you’d turn me into a bat. Shit.

People don’t quite get it. That’s how good I am at this. I am so good you don’t even know I’m good. I AM control. You think Randy, Simon, and Paula are able to carry on a conversation without someone writing it for them? You think America would naturally like fame-hungry imbeciles spouting on about how they’re the next Third Eye Blind? Wrong. I make that happen. That plane landing in the Hudson, that was pretty amazing stuff. But imagine having to do the heavy lifting as a flight attendant while telling one pilot he’s right, one that she’s not crazy while simultaneously shutting her up and giving credence to anything she says, and having “natural” snide arguments with another pilot while telling every passenger on the plane that THEY may be the one to safely land us. That’s what this season is. I’m supposed to shut the hell up, but the plane is already losing altitude. And what were they doing bringing a fourth judge? I was the fourth voice. Now I may as well be introducing karaoke contestants at the DeKalb County fair again in between pitching the raffle for a free tour of the Coke Museum. You know, that doesn’t sound so bad after all. Patsy, get DeKalb County on the phone for me. Yes Georgia not Illinois. I’m too old yet ageless for this shit. And can you get me my smoothie? No, no towel needed. I stopped my body from producing sweat a half hour ago. Oh and Patsy? I love you.

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