September 26, 2009

As Seen On Television: Part I lost track

Last night, I dreamed I was at a writer’s conference and someone offered me a thousand dollars in CASH to lead a poetry workshop for them as they had an emergency. While I hope my real self would say, “Oh um, call Beth Ann Fennelly, I do not know from poetry,” my dream self said ABSOLUTELY I CAN! While I hope my real self would not take the money, my dream self sure did.

Then my dream self got what was coming to it, walking into the “workshop” and realizing it was not a workshop at all, but a reading where I was expected to share some of my own personal poetry, of which none exists. I mostly only perpetrated poetry as a whelpling, that lovely time when you are thirteen, and angst-ridden, and clearly the center of the universe and immortal, and you think poetry is about describing HOW YOU FEEL in bleak, image-free terms. You see no reason not to rhyme, “Pain” with “again.” Twice. In the same stanza.

SO my dream self started thinking about the poetry I wrote for the single poetry workshop I took in grad school, and granted it was less self indulgent, but not what I would call...good. I perpetrated one poem in that workshop that I think has even a spec of merit, and it is a ripping piece of anger about how much I TRULY disliked my friend Lydia’s current boyfriend. In the dream I was wondering how I could get ahold of a copy of it, and if one poem could be stretched into a “reading” by means of long pauses and possibly interpretive dance. I had that sweaty-palmed feel you get in the Naked At Work dream or the dream where you are an Actor Pushed On Stage With No Idea What Your Lines Are Or Even What The Play Is.

Then it got worse. We were all taken hostage by terrorists who were going to be killing one of us every hour for some nefarious terrorist-type purpose that was never clear.

SO we were in a ship’s hold, somehow, and waiting to be killed, and I had escalated to that cold terror you get in dreams where your blood starts to move syrup-slow even though your heart is pounding, and I wait to die, and in the logic free way of dreams someone said, “While we wait, she could at least read her poetry.” All these doomed people crammed in the hold of the ship turned their eyes on me, and I had NOTHING! NOTHING! Except a thousand dollars in cash in my pocket I had taken while promising to do a thing I KNEW I COULD NOT DO, and PS soon I was going to be shot and killed---

I woke up panting and pouring sweat in the blackness of 1:30 AM, caught fast in the claws of a pernicious, undefeatable, red-eyed, villainous Insomnia from the Planet Krypton. I looked at the ceiling and fretted for an hour, and then I gave up and reached for the remote. 2:30 television is T.S. Elliott’s The Wasteland but without the literary allusions and the merit.

Infomercial city. Thirty minutes of impossible promises unspooling on every channel. I watched a couple of each and was never moved to even reach for the phone. Here is what I learned:
If you buy the right machine, you can be ripped and cut by working out 20 minutes, 3 times a week, without changing your eating habits. Bald people can have hair! Hairy people can be smooth! A special rubber pain tube makes you look thin, not like you have packed into a rubber pain tube, and PS it is very, very comfortable! If I had a machine to finely chop herbs, I would finally be happy and fulfilled as a woman. Extenze causes men to have bigger wing-wangs, which is all thatwomen actually care about in a man, and you know the claims are SUPER true because the product is full of science and over 100 million capsules have been taken already, and that PROVES it works.

Dear ExtenZ,
Gummi Bears make your hair glossy, and I know this is true because last year people ate 100 thousand pounds of them.
PS, this word “science” you keep using? I do not think it means what you think it means.

Finally, I gave up and switched the channel to the ONLY non-informercial show on. It was...CSI: MIAMI. Gah. Why do the writers write what they write for that show? NO ACTOR could pull off the DIALOG. Maybe blaming the writer’s is wrong, because they seem to be giving a LARGE GROUP of MILLIONS what they want. The fact that THIS TRULY AWFUL SHOW continues its death march and gets ENDLESS syndication while LIFE and THE UNUSUALS could not find an audience makes me foam.

I watched the opening, and I just – have you SEEN this show? HOW? HOW IS IT STILL ON? There was a dead body and beside it, the way-too-talented-to-be-saying-these-clunky-lines Khandi Alexander found a little balsa wood coffin. She looks up and says to the other cops, in all earnesty, “Do you think the killer put this here to scare us off?”

Um, hi? That’s insane. What cop thinks that when confronted with a clue? “Perhaps the killer smashed her head in to get blood on the floor to scare us away!” No. No, no.

Red Haired Guy Who Used To Be So Great on NYPD BLUE looks down at her and TAKES HER QUESTION SERIOUSLY. He says, “Maybe.” WOW! I had no idea that technique WORKED. Next time I commit murder, I will cleverly place a realistic-looking rubber cockroach, kinda have it peeking out from my victim’s armpit, and all the police will scream and scatter. I shall get away clean!

But then he spoiled my plan by saying, “But we don’t scare so easily.”

AH I SEE! The problem is not the logic. The problem is the item! A little wooden coffin that a child might use to bury her hamster is not scary enough! THANKS Red Haired Guy Who Used To Be So Great on NYPD BLUE. I now know to use at least 3 rubber roaches.

I watched for maybe seven minutes before Scott rolled over and blinked blearily at me and said, “Are you watching CSI: MIAMI? Please don’t watch CSI Miami. You know it enrages you.”

Scott can sleep through just about anything, but at that moment, they had just discovered a rotten maggoty GOAT HEAD in the cabinet right behind the spot where Khandi and Red Haired Guy Who Used To Be So Great on NYPD BLUE had been discussing how the coffin was a clever ploy to scare away the cops (JINKIES SCOOBIE, IF IT HADN’T BEEN FOR US DERN KIDS....) and I may have been yelling at the screen that any cop who sees the body is so fresh it is still WARM and yet smells REEKING DECOMP should maybe CHECK THE CABINET RIGHT BEHIND THEM instead of babbling about SPOOKY TOYS.

I admit I am very grumpy and am being very very mean to CSI: Miami, and I am sure all the people involved in making it are hurt in their feelings and crying as they drive their HUM-Vs to throw big bags of cash into the bank because ZILLIONS OF PEOPLE KEEP WATCHING IT and buying PINE SOL or whatever product placement object they see the CSI guys using to clean up the goat head detritus. Question: Why couldn’t they have called the good shows CSI: LIFE, or CSI: THE UNUSUALS. Then they would still be on.

Anyway, yes I am being mean. I FEEL mean. I got about three hours of sleep. I felt bad about waking Scott up, so I spent the rest of the bleak hours with the infomercials. Did you know HERDS of gorgeous 19 year olds with breast implants are rolling around on their carpets, wearing lingerie and The High Shoes, talking on a singles hotline at three am, and they wish you would switch off CSI:Miami and call?

True Facts.

Posted by joshilyn at September 26, 2009 9:55 AM

Sorry about the insomnia. With luck, your well-chosen Princess Bride reference will cause you to be rewarded with better sleep tonight!

Posted by: JMyersbook at September 26, 2009 10:39 AM

Gah! The insomnia is crappy enough, but I sympathize with the horrible dream. I had a very bad dream last spring that left me meloncholy and bleak for almost 2 months. Pamper yourself today and sleep well tonight.

Posted by: JulieB at September 26, 2009 11:15 AM

Insomnia sucks, but that was really, really funny! :)

Posted by: saltedwithshadows at September 26, 2009 11:26 AM

I also hate CSI and miss Life very much. CSI is not even so bad that it's good, it is so bad it's passed good and gone back to bad. Unless you watch this, in which it is good and hilarious:

Posted by: Jessica at September 26, 2009 11:37 AM

Oh, Insomnia. I prefer the infomercials about kitchen gadgets. I love to cook, and I like to think I cook well, and all without the aid of the Magic Bullet or the Jack LaLane Power Juicer or that weird radioactive oven thing endorsed by Mr. T. Or those knives where the guy uses the knife to try to cut a hammer. So it amuses me to watch unnaturally perky hosts that they say are "celebrities" and yet who I have never heard of talk about how long it takes to peel an apple by hand.

P.S. I think I'd lay there in the dark thinking about the disastrous poetry reading until dawn before I turned on CSI. And yet, people I know are always saying things like, "There was a CSI marathon on yesterday! I love that show!" Maybe, like you, I am missing something...something that apparently makes the show bearable to watch for more than 10 seconds.

Posted by: Haley at September 26, 2009 11:39 AM

I watch it. I'm sorry. It's horrifyingly amusing to me.

Posted by: Heather at September 26, 2009 11:53 AM

I will forgive you if you do nto have a nielson box.

Posted by: Joshilyn at September 26, 2009 11:55 AM

Joshilyn + CSI + no sleep = funny post


Joshilyn + CSI + no sleep = grouchy Joshilyn

I'm sorry you feel sad and mean. I think you should feel witty and clever.

Posted by: Nikki at September 26, 2009 12:02 PM

I still cannot and will not accept that David Caruso went from NYPD Blue to such dreck. It is staggeringly bad. Also, the blonde girl who was so good on West Wing. What kind of crazy voodoo magic are they perpetrating to lure such talent to the place where it goes to die? And then be exhumed. And then be splayed out on a table in gruesome splayed-ness. I may have just made up the word splayed...I'm awfully tired.

I'm pretty sure ExtenZ was concocted at the Ponds Institute- that bastion of science...

Posted by: laura at September 26, 2009 12:17 PM

Did you know that there is a CSI Miami drinking game? Yes, you do a shot every time Horatio Cain takes off his glasses.

Posted by: Heather Cook at September 26, 2009 12:37 PM

Oh, Heather! I am hoping to start a drinking game (they must start somewhere) for Dr Phil where you take a drink whenever someone says "that's why we're here." Whatever gets you through the afternoon, you know?

My favorite thing about the informercials is the fine print under the "experts". Dr. Endorsement is usually a resident or has a PhD in astology or something. Sometimes they are dramatizations of real experts who said things taken out of context to imply endorsement: "[I think NO ONE, under any circumstances should EVER] 'USE THIS PRODUCT!'"

Posted by: Em at September 26, 2009 3:55 PM

Em, As-tology? Perfect!

Joshilyn, you are a very very cleaver woman. Thanks for the smile.

Posted by: Shonna at September 26, 2009 6:54 PM

I don't know anything about poetry either, but you sure are right about referring folks to Beth Ann Fennelly. I attended a writing conference where she was an instructor, and boy can that girl deliver a poem. I mean, wow. She was amazing.

Posted by: Lisa Katzenberger at September 26, 2009 8:36 PM

Okay. You've done it again. My husband just said "Stop that damnable giggling!" (He was smiling, by the way.)

Posted by: Sandra Leigh at September 26, 2009 9:26 PM

Strange dreams abound! Yours is the scariest, though.

And I came home to my very sick Lillian watching CSI: Miami, but she does have a plague of some sort and is automatically forgiven.

I do hope you get some sleep tonight!

Posted by: Fran at September 26, 2009 10:50 PM

My daughter is 12 1/2 now and writing long, angst-filled poems about pain, and no gain being possible now because of all the pain, and also cuz everyone's dead. Also there are knights, dragons, and lots of fairies. It's fairly awesome.

Posted by: edj at September 27, 2009 6:50 PM

CSI:Miami is slightly more tolerable if you think of it as a COMEDY. Also, if you play Heather's drinking game. And those are not ordinary sunglasses, they are the Sunglasses of Justice.

Posted by: JenniferG at September 28, 2009 8:58 AM

Sniff* I miss The Unusuals. Thanks for bringing it up.

Posted by: heidi at September 28, 2009 9:29 AM

Oh my. You should only ever watch CSI:Miami if you are in NEED of rage. It is not the cure for insomnia. I do remember David Caruso being good on NYPD Blue lo! these many years ago. But the man has not done a single good thing since leaving that show. It's uncanny, really. I will say, though, that my husband and I love to make fun of that show any time we happen to breeze past it while searching for something to watch. We like to imitate David Caruso's heavy intonation and weird dramatic pauses.

Posted by: Aimee at September 28, 2009 10:57 AM

So did Red Haired Guy Who Used To Be So Great on NYPD Blue have his hands on his hips and his body angled sideways while spewing forth that profound line? Occasionaly when feeling meanish to the world, I'll watch and yell everytime he takes off his sunglasses, puts his hands on his hips or stands sideways to deliver a line. Gets rid of a lot of stress. Hee.

Posted by: Kathy at September 28, 2009 12:21 PM

Only reason I ever watch CSI:Miami is because a kid that I worked with in a summer theatre program a century or so ago has an recurring role in it. He plays the Internal Affairs guy and, I think, does nice work.

William Peterson made the same cheesy dialogue work in the original CSI. His character reveled in his geekiness and was very at-home in his own skin. Horatio, et al take themselves far too seriously. Unfortunately, so do the actors who are playing them.

Posted by: Jan in Norman, OK at September 28, 2009 12:24 PM

I would also like to vote for CSI: Pushing Daisies and CSI: Eli Stone. All the good stuff gets cancelled. I was happy to see Victor Garber in gLee though. Crap, I just remembered...we've got to start calling it CSI: gLee.

Posted by: Melisa at September 28, 2009 4:16 PM

Just to make you more rage-y at CSI: Miami - did you know that for a while (I don't know if this is still true) that CSI: Miami was the number 1 show in the world?

Posted by: Jessie at September 29, 2009 9:05 AM

efa1rK I want to say - thank you for this!

Posted by: lilikindsli at October 1, 2009 8:31 AM