Friday, December 17, 2010

Bottom Ten

Top Ten, Schmop Ten.

Every year around this time, they're everywhere. And every year, though I find them reductive and mostly dull, I read 'em (okay, skim 'em), think I'll actually buy one or two of the books, download some of that music, see that weird Indie film from March that I missed. Then I don't. Or I decide I just Really Don't Understand Movie Critics because that shit just wasn't that good. Except for number 7, which should have been number 1, you jackass.

And then I do the same thing the following year.

What we need--okay, what I need--is a bottom ten. Cause the good stuff? Frankly, we all know about it already, we've all (sort of) agreed, in some collective unconscious way that That Thing Is Good. (Even if it's not to our taste; fine, it's "quality".) But the bad stuff? Really, we can't call it out enough. It needs the bright light of criticism--and shame--shone upon it so it will wither and die. Please.

So: Here are the ten ubiquitous things from 2010 that we--okay I--am really fucking sick of. Stuff that needs to Go Away in 2011. (Seriously, for the children. Okay, for me.) I provide no category. No tiny fiefdom to prove my specific expertise, throwing in just enough obscure crap to impress the shit out of everyone, just enough popular successes to prove I'm not a snob. Screw that. When it comes to shit I hate--I'm a generalist.

1. Sarah fucking god damned shit-for-brains Palin. She has her own TV show. How did this happen? No one gave Dan Quayle a second thought, much less his own TV show. Want to talk about Jack Kemp? No! Of course you don't! It's ludicrous that someone who's had so little actual impact on the actual world, through her actual...actions (not other peoples' assessments of her and her "profile" on the "scene"), gets as much play as she does. She's a willfully ignorant, venal, fame whore. She needs to go away. And take her clod-headed children with her.

2. Joel McHale. I know some of you love him. But really, isn't it time he wiped that smug grin off his face? Does someone that tall and good looking really need to push the superior, hipper than thou, glib thing? He's handsome! He's over six feet! He's funny! He has two shows! He's so much better than you in every way! And he knows it! It's piling on a little, isn't it?

3. Jersey Shore. Not the actual show or their stupid "books" or even the people themselves--I really couldn't give a crap. But as a cultural reference/punch line. If I hear one more smart person (the President for god's sake) say their ridiculous names for easy laughs and street cred...enough. Let's do better. A tiny little show like this on a psychotic, desperate and dying cable network really doesn't require this much attention. Let's not speak of it/them again, okay? You can watch them, if you must (who am I to talk; I watch The Real Housewives of New York), but let's just not make mention of them.

4. Harem pants. They weren't pretty or flattering the first time around, they sure aren't now. Back away from them, people, you will be so embarrassed in five years.

5. Rhymey, pop culture portmanteaus. Take one word. Take another word that modifies it and mash them together to make a new word that sort of somehow rhymes with the first word. You're a fucking genius! No, you're not. Put fucking "bromance" and "sheconomy" and "sexting" and "slackademic" back in your fucking desk. Your magazine's going under and this shit isn't going to save you.

6. Inception. It wasn't complex. It was incoherent. Let's stop pretending otherwise, okay? It's possible we're actually embarrassing ourselves.

7. Those floppy, flaccid, crocheted, beret type beanies all the young ladies are wearing. They're clearly not keeping anyone warm, and the way they're always sliding off the side of your head? They're trying to escape. Buy a smart fedora for style, a cozy woolen cap for warmth or call it a day. These just look dopey.

8. Enough with the fucking vampires and zombies. Seriously. Do we really need this many iterations of...anything? A gazillion freaking vampire movies, two vampire series currently on TV, how many books series, all these zombie books and mash-ups and movies and shows? Do we have to beat to death (pun: intended!) every single god damned trope any possibly well intentioned writer decides to play with? Let's try leaving well enough alone for once, please. (That said, if a real zombie would like to eat Sarah Palin...I got no problem with that.)

9. My Spam. Not all spam. I'm sure some spam is okay; slightly annoying, but ultimately harmless, like paper cuts and 1-ply toilet paper. But my spam is really ticking me off. For some reason, the spam gods have decided I desperately and pretty exclusively need: ink & toner cartridges, business cards and replacement hips. For the record: I do not. I would like, for 2011, new spam. Even spam hawking different prosthetics would be okay (condyloid joint? fine!), though I'm really hoping for some out of the box thinking by the spam jockeys. Try selling me taxidermy chemicals or refurbished car batteries. Just because why not.

10. Packaging. When did we start having to encase even the most benign consumer goods in titanium strength plastic, affixed with the kind of industrial adhesive that keeps rockets from breaking up when they hit the earth's atmosphere? Seriously? It's eyeliner, not the crown fucking jewels. And the giant box that holds a small bottle, which is in turn half empty? Just...why? Not only does this smack of a looming ecological disaster, it's just fucking annoying.

And I really don't need to be any more annoyed. As I'm sure you can tell.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

For most of my life, I have had a perfect romance with sleep. It was basically love at first sight. I caught a glimpse of the bewitching netherworld of Morpheus and promptly fell.


I've always loved going to bed, staying in bed, sleeping in, sleeping late. As a kid, I remember being so happy to be in bed, I would swaddle myself up tight and--despite being a person who tends towards melancholy--actually smile. Even (weird, but true) squeal with something that I can only describe as: joy. (At some point, the inexplicable word, "Cozy-co!" became part of the proceedings as well.) My favorite toys as a kid were stuffed animals--sleep buddies. For a time in grade school, I would set my alarm clock for 2 or 3 am, just so I could wake up and then fully delight in falling asleep again. I remember vividly as a teenager not hoping I'd never feel the invariably inappropriately timed, painful, full body exhaustion of adolescence--but that I would feel it when I was near a bed. How glorious that would be! To not have to fight the super-villain "Drouser" in 8th grade study hall, but just surrender, give in, fall into that sweet silence. And once I got to college and experienced the sometime sleep deprivation that goes with studying long hours at the wrong time, all I wanted to do on school breaks was sleep until I couldn't sleep anymore.

In fact, though, sleeping until I couldn't sleep anymore seemed a crazy, nonsensical desire. When would that ever happen? When would I not be able to sleep? Coffee with lunch? I see that and raise you a double shot espresso at 11pm. Two hour snoozer in the middle of the day? Pshaw, it was just a prelude to the bliss. Jet lag? What, exactly, is that? Nothing that would ever keep me awake.

Because nothing ever could keep me awake. I could sleep in cars (only as a passenger--usually), at loud parties (literally, once, right next to a pounding speaker the size of a water buffalo), on the subway (yes, I missed a stop once), while having my hair blown dry (many, many times; so warm). Sleep was my constant companion, my most reliable friend. The Calgon that could always, no matter, what, take me away. When I'd see a movie about someone trapped in solitary confinement, chaffing every moment, scratching at the walls, I'd think, "Come on; why not just have a nice nap?"

But then. What happened? I'm not sure. At some point (it's fuzzy, frankly; I was half asleep), night became...complicated. There was waking. More than once a night, and without my alarm clock purposely set to 3am. This wasn't a loopy trick orchestrated to birth a second slumber; this waking meant business. This waking meant staying awake. A half hour that turned into 45 minutes, that turned into an hour that turned into rage that turned into sanctimony. (I was up! From 2:10 to 4:45! And I'm awake and walking and talking now! Do you feel sorry for me? I really wish you would.)

Suddenly a nap in the afternoon always meant an interrupted night's sleep. The idea of getting 8 hours, deep and straight, became a chimera, as hard to capture as a dream. After a lifetime of reveling in sleep, luxuriating in sleep, loving sleep unconditionally and being loved unconditionally back...I find myself, well: getting dumped.

Sleep is dumping me. I keep hoping--tonight we'll be happy together! But it never really, truly happens. For the most part...sleep is distracted. Only half there. Sleep just won't commit; I can't get sleep to settle down with me. We're not on the same schedule. We've grown apart. Sleep doesn't understand my needs.

Sleep's heading out for a pack of cigarettes. And I'm pretty sure he's not coming back.

And now I'm getting mad. Every night, I wait for sleep, more and more angry and tense, awaiting an arrival that, if it comes, will be obligatory at best. "Fine. Go. I'm over you." But really, inside, I'm thinking, "Wait! No, come back! I need you!"

Naturally, here, as in the third act of any romantic melodrama: we turn to drugs.

Ah, the drugs. The Tylenol PMs, the Ambiens, the Lunestas. Nice, helpful for a while, cozy but...ultimately, in the end, sad substitutions for the real thing. Like a last ditch, desperate attempt to save the marriage by booking two weeks in Cancun. Yeah, you get a little of that old magic back's temporary. It's false. It's forced. In the end, it...ends. And you have to wake up and smell the coffee. Of course--it's morning already.

So: sigh. I'm not sure this is a break up I can get over. I can't decide: screw sleep. I'll be happy Miniatures. Home beer brewing.

But I won't be. Sleep is irreplaceable. Like oxygen and talking and basic cable. Without it, I'm nothing.

So I just have to keep trying to make it work. Every. Damn. Night.

No matter how tired it makes me.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Ben Wright Is -- A Bildungsroman in Status Updates

Ben Wright is born! Hellloooo world!

Ben Wright is what is this icky goo all over me? Bath, please? Thnxmuch.

Ben Wright is constantly crying. All. The. Time. Explain?

Ben Wright is boobs=yum. I mean for reals. Thnx Mom!

Ben Wright just threw up. Remind me to Never. Do. That. Again.

Ben Wright is finally focusing. Liked fuzzy blur better; way too much stuff around, much of it disgusting. (*coughs it* Grandpa's feet.)

Ben Wright is sitting in his own poop. Not as gross as you'd think!

Ben Wright is, holy cow, walking! And falling. Ouchies!

Ben Wright is shocked he made Mom cry just by saying, "Mom". Sweet.

Ben Wright is not liking this "little sister" person one bit.

Ben Wright is not admitting he just tried to "kill" little sister by piling all his stuffed animals on top of her. Please, she could breath just fine.

Ben Wright is thinking "first day of school" is code for "your life is over".

Ben Wright is Zach's blood brother, 4evah. (Duuude!)

Ben Wright is Miss Tompkins kind of looks like Mom, but curvier, shinier and smilier. I'm okay with it. Like...really okay.

Ben Wright is the shreddingest shredder ever. Love me, love my deck.

Ben Wright is selling three decks. Anyone? Cheap!

Ben Wright is PSAT stands for Piss Shit Ass Test.

Ben Wright is boobs=yum. (Thanks, Meliss...oops!)

Ben Wright is back on the market. Ladies?

Ben Wright is pissed to discover that his Dad is an asshole.

Ben Wright is looooving college! Safety school my ass!

Ben Wright is, yeah, just threw up. Again. Afraid I'm not going to die. (Thanks, Dad.) Gin+O.J. is the devil's drink.

Ben Wright is convinced James Joyce is God. "The snotgreen sea. The scrotumtightening sea." Yes; that.

Ben Wright is thinking ties are retarded. I mean, seriously. It's like a noose. A pretty, silky noose.

Ben Wright is floored to find out that Zach F. is in Dental School. How the Dude has fallen!

Ben Wright is a working stiff. (Yeah, I said "stiff"; boss is haaawwtt!)

Ben Wright is looking for work again. SUX.

Ben Wright is trying out the Left Coast. Just the way I hang. (Hah!)

Ben Wright is pretty sure he just met his wife. Next: figure out if her name is Susan or Suzanne.

Ben Wright is freaked the fuck OUT; it's CELIA. But oh...Celia. Yeah. Good chance we are done here.

Ben Wright is convinced that realtors are aliens sent here to torture us. C? Thoughts?

Ben Wright is Holy Shit; Question=Popped! Dad? Get out your handkerchief, Mom's gonna be weeping!

Ben Wright is Hammock in tropics+Delicious Cocktail+Wife (Wife!!)=Fucking Heaven.

Ben Wright is looking for someone to kill that bastard in HR. Oh, and that fuckface with the Saab who keeps parking in my spot.

Ben Wright is a Dad! WTF!?!?! Fucker is amazing! Stinky, but amazing!

Ben Wright is covered in milky upchuck and so fucking tired he might just...I...wait...Penny farthing...mayonnaise... What?

Ben Wright is amazed at how much shit is in the garage. Particularly since the CAR isn't in there.

Ben Wright is pretty sure his heart just broke in two. Lincoln+little lunchbox+Buzz Lightyear backpack+waving good bye from bus steps=seriously, just kill me now.

Ben Wright is finally aware of what it means to be 'wrapped around someone's little finger'. Her name is Francesca, she weighs 7 lbs., 4 oz. and she looks like she Knows Everything.

Ben Wright is looking for a good accountant. Anyone?

Ben Wright is pretty sure we don't need a house this big, but what the hell, it's only money!

Ben Wright is a little freaked out by the size of his monthly nut. When did we become these people?

Ben Wright is, yeah, we didn't need a house that big. Downsizing is good.

Ben Wright is an idiot. Downsizing sux balls.

Ben Wright is so fucking shocked by how expensive college is now he might just let these two ingrates fend for themselves.

Ben Wright is on his second million. Now if he could only find the first 1,823,761.

Ben Wright is thinking about his Dad. Every. Damn. Day. *Sigh*

Ben Wright is amazed to discover the love of his life. And her name is golf!

Ben Wright is promising his beloved C that he won't spend every Saturday on the links. (It's gotta rain sometime!)

Ben Wright is throwing out that AARP mailer; not yet people!

Ben Wright is thinking a certain son could call a little more often no matter how 'crazy-busy' he is. And a certain daughter is pretty fucking perfect, so the fact that she still doesn't have a serious boyfriend=vexing.

Ben Wright is convinced grand-children are the Greatest Thing Ever; cute, adoring AND returnable!

Ben Wright is doing a 180 on legalizing pot. Whatever, bring it on. Big Daddy needs a bong hit.

Ben Wright is delighted and amazed by how good his wife still looks. Day-um, woman! What're you still doing with this old geezer?

Ben Wright is confused about this Medicare "donut hole". Anyone? C? Mitch? Bueller?

Ben Wright is at Francesca and Wendy's wedding on the Cape. Bring on the G&Ts ladies! (And you both look stunning. I wasn't crying, I just got something in my eye, okay?)

Ben Wright is disturbed by the color and texture of his calves. What the hell is going on down there and why did no one prepare me for this?

Ben Wright is spending too much time at Costco. Yes, the rotisserie chicken is delicious and the gross quantities of Glucosamine and Chondroitin are great, but 'making a day of it' is just depressing.

Ben Wright is surprised by how much he enjoys a comfortable chair, an open window, some world music and a Patrick O'Brien novel. Weird.

Ben Wright is asking, "What?" a lot more than he'd like.

Ben Wright is sitting in his own poop. Just as gross as you'd...

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Get With the Program

In June, NBCU plans a week in which programming will emphasize healthy eating and exercise: The idea is that viewers will watch the shows and then spring into action. "It's about incorporating a marketer's message into a thematic environment," says Mike Pilot, president of sales and marketing at NBC Universal.--
Wall St. Journal, 4/7/2010

For some reason (that frankly I still haven't unpacked in my mind, so bear with me) this mind-controll-y directive bugs me more than NBC's semi-annual "green initiative", which had producers writing environmentally friendly story-lines into their episodes. Somehow, that seemed positive, for the good of the world at large, a community based, "we're all in this together" kind of thing. Watch Liz Lemon recycle! Kind of makes you want to do it too, right? Nothing wrong with that. Recycle away everyone! Let's save the planet!

This though...has a weird tinge of the Mommy Dearest State about it, doesn't it? The wicked, controlling 'parent-eye', knocking a Moon-Pie out of young Suzie's hand and slow-driving the car next to her while she jogs her way into the Little Miss Texas pageant. Probably I'm over thinking this. I'm sure I am. But look; doesn't the very casting of television shows tell us to be healthy, thin, do Pilates and never age? Do we really need them to work entire plots around the idea? Do we need to turn this sub-text into...what's it called?...text?

Moreover, the very roots of drama come from conflict and great characters are borne of specificity and idiosyncrasy. The idea of every character on TV suddenly becoming a vegan, tee totaling, gluten-free, marathon running, backyard composter? Kind of saps them of some much needed humanity, doesn't it? Some of the quirks and flaws that makes a character appealing, engaging, lovable? Watchable? Call me crazy, but I don't so much like "righteous" as a character trait.

Which of course got me thinking: Imagine if some of the all time great TV shows had to deal with shit like this? I mean, save 30Rock (and occasionally--still--The Office, and every now and then Parks & Recreation) there's nothing really fantastic or any particularly memorable characters on NBC right now. So bottom line, they're just slapping "Eat Your Daily 5!" stickers on the deck chairs on the Titanic. But just think what some classic shows would be like if they got this kind of network request...

The Rockford Files; Rockford's doctor tells him that spare tire around his middle isn't doing his heart any good, and his stress levels are way too high (oh, that Rocky! not to mention Angel!), so he starts taking yoga on the beach. After an exaggerated eye roll during Happy Baby Pose, Jimbo suffers a minor stroke.

Kojak; Kojak finds out he has 16 cavaties so he decides to give up the Tootsie-Pops. He starts chewing on celery stalks instead and consequently is so aggravated by gas pain and bloating that he beats a perp to death with his belt buckle.

Mary Tyler Moore Show; Mary thinks everyone would benefit from a daily speed-walking regime. The first morning, Murray and Georgette are the only ones who show up. Lou claims that he "hates walking". Ted tries to make it up to Mary by speed-walking around the set, so Lou beats him to death with his belt buckle.

Cheers; Norm and Cliff make a 'sobriety pact' and both quit drinking. They are written out of the show, which is then renamed, Cheer.

Roseanne; In a cross-network 'stunt', Roseanne and Dan go on The Biggest Loser, Couples. They lose a combined 236 lbs, divorce and send their kids to work on other shows.

The Sopranos; Dr. Melfi suggests Tony exercise and start eating right to deal with his depression. He beats her to death with his belt buckle.

Sex and the City; Samantha decides to quite drinking AND smoking, subsequently gains fifteen pounds and is shocked to find that all the guys who hit on her think she's a tranny. She's even more shocked to find out that they're right.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

It's Just Mean

At one point, some in the group opposed to the Democrats' reform plan appeared to lecture and mock a man who held a green placard saying he had Parkinson's disease. "If you are looking for a handout, you are in the wrong end of town," one guy told the man with the placard. Another person could be seen in Columbus Dispatch video throwing dollar bills at the unidentified man, who was sitting on the ground. --From an article by Tom Diemer in Politics Daily

So once again, the vocal, angry Right are up and protesting. Because health care reform might actually be getting close to legislative success (flawed though it is) and Fox News told them to. Where these people find the time--and the energy--I'll never know. But what's really striking to me about this particular nugget--and if you watch the video from the Columbus Dispatch it's even more vivid and appalling--is just how hateful these people are. And I mean that literally; they are full of hate. The man who threw dollar bills at the (utterly silent) gentleman sitting on the ground, started screaming at one point, his voice rising to the hysterical, shrill pitch of a wolverine in heat. He was literally spitting hate all over the place. The display was so egregious almost all the MSNBC hosts highlighted it yesterday. Ed Schultz called it "gross". I couldn't agree more. The complete lack of civility, even common decency, was shocking and very, very sad.

And it made me realize, once again, why I could never be a Conservative Republican or date a Conservative Republican or at this point, have a cordial lunch with a Conservative Republican. These people are, quite simply, mean. Now, I'll admit it: I'm no picnic on the grass myself. As any readers of this blog, or random folks in line at the Ralph's, know, I can be a straight up, unapologetic bitch. But I hope a) I reserve my bitchiness for people who make themselves into nice big ol' targets--the self-important, the entitled, the aggressively, purposefully stupid and b) I come hard-wired with a healthy dollop of Semitic self-loathing, which I think keeps me from being totally insufferable.

But the more I see of the vocal, pointed spear-head of the Republican party--which I think is just a distilled bolus of everything the quieter, more mainstream "center" believes--the more convinced I am that anyone who identifies themselves as a believer of this ideology in fact, bottom line, just believes this: "I matter; you don't". That's it. This isn't a nuanced political philosophy at all, George Will and David Brooks and Tony Blankley and their fine vocabularies be damned. It's just the caterwauling of a schoolyard bully: "Get out of the sandbox, it's MINE!"

Think about it. What are their core beliefs?
A) Lower taxes. Why? I want more money for ME ME ME!
B) Smaller government. Why? I don't want to pay taxes (see A) and the government might help OTHER people and I don't CARE about other people, I care about ME ME ME!
C) Little regulation on business. Why? I own/might own/dream of owning a business someday and when I do...don't tell ME ME ME what to do! If I want to pay my workers $4 a day that's MY business and if I want to spew toxins into the local water table or create complex financial services that are nothing more than legalized gambling and bring down the entire economy--tough titties!
D) Rigid immigration laws. Why? I don't like people I don't know and sure don't want them in my country! They are not ME!
E) Strong military. Why? People who live in other countries are not ME so what the hell; kill 'em!

I think--I hope--the Progressive/Liberal/Democratic ideology is simply more humane. Civilized. Compassionate. Empathetic. Isn't the entire Progressive movement founded on ideals of helping the disenfranchised, social justice, empowering the powerless? Ideals that are, at their core...kind. To me, it's become just that simple. Progressives care about everyone. Conservatives care about themselves, their families and their friends (maybe)--in that order (if the wife steps outta line, she is gone). They can claim all they want that their point of view is just another, legitimate political approach. But I'm starting to think it has nothing to do with the "art or science concerned with guiding or influencing governmental policy"--the definition of politics. Because that would mean they have some interest in actually governing--which implies some level of concern and interest in the populace--and I really don't think they do. They just want that sandbox all to themselves. So you there, sitting on the ground, with Parkinson's? Get out.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

RX for SNL

I know this isn't a new thought. People say it every season, in different guises. But really, I just have to add my voice to the chorus (cacophony?), because, as the two or three of you who read this know: I blog when I'm pissed.

Saturday Night Live sucks. (I said it wasn't an original idea.) So yeah, we've heard it all before. It's such a familiar complaint there is backlash to its backlash; it's actually an on-line commenters' cliche to moan, "Oh don't start with the whole, SNL was better back in the John Belushi/Eddie Murphy/Phil Hartman/Tina Fey days, blah blah blah..." Yes, it does have a little echo of "That music you kids listen to is just noise!" But separate my complaint from the "It was better back when" idea for a moment. The fact is, I'm not at all sure it was (entirely) "better back when..." Namely, because "back when..." we were either 9 or stoned. (Hopefully, not both.) And truly: those bees weren't really that funny. So let's just stipulate: SNL has displayed wides swings in quality over 35 years--how could it not?--and even within seasons and episodes. Let's take the historical comparison off the table. Let's talk about now.

So again: right now, SNL just straight up sucks. It really, really does. And I'm watching, honestly. I was thrilled Zach Galifinaikis was hosting, made sure to DVR it in case I got home late. Only to be wildly disappointed. How could SNL squander such a weird and wonderful talent? Does this point to a necrotic center at the heart of the current incarnation of SNL? Lately, the show feels lazy and behind the curve and most importantly, embarrassingly unfunny.

I admit, I have a weird relationship with SNL. So many people I love and trust utterly stopped watching it years ago, or only dip in occasionally (like when Tina Fey deliciously skewered Caribou Barbie during the 2008 campaign). Why do I keep watching? (Besides the sad fact that I'm often home Saturday nights at 11:30. Topic for another post. Maybe.) A lot of it is just...habit I suppose. I grew up with this show. I watched it as a little kid, as a teenager, as a young adult. It feels like an integral part of the weekend, like sleeping in and seeing what new movies are opening. And too, SNL has always felt...important somehow, as the comedy touchstone of the day. Like a silly sister to the New York Times, it's the "show of record". If SNL does something right (like much of their 2008 campaign coverage, or anything that fantastic Justin Timberlake touches) people talk about it. And let's face it, in today's wildly diffuse media world, anything 'people are talking about', I don't want to miss. But man, SNL is not rewarding my loyalty lately.

The sketches are way too reliant (as they have been intermittently for years) on spoofing TV, which I've never quite gotten. Silly game shows and talk shows? Really? Are they so prevalent in our culture that they need spoofing? Last night they went--again--to the bizarre well of some made up, 1960s faux Password. Just so Kristin Wiig (whom I generally love) could play her narcissistic, ignoramus actress character (who lives entirely in the effed up recesses of Wiig's delightful brain; which is...charming? but not necessarily funny), and Jude Law could rock a Russian accent and an outrageously enlarged dance belt. (I could have said "comically enlarged" The 'humor' came from Wiig's character always saying the word she's supposed to get her partner to say (which we've seen her do numerous times before; it was funny once) and Law's cultural confusion (saying vodka is something you drink for breakfast). Ha. Ha ha ha...oh. Sigh. So: Old, used, skit we've seen before that wasn't that funny to start with, combined with Soviet bloc jokes. Really? Is this the stuff that's coursing through the cultural body--Bizarr-o world Margo Channings and 'wodka'-loving Ruskies-- and needs the sharp-eyed skewering of a weekly comedy and satire show?

And so also: the political humor on SNL is alarmingly stale, which in particular saddens me. This should be a place a show like SNL shines. I know the show's never been quite as political as people remember, or as sharp (Chevy Chase constantly toppling over wasn't really a clever take on Gerald Ford). But it does have a history of addressing politics, Weekend Update is the MediCare of the show ("Hands off!") and considering the shitstorm that is contemporary American politics right now, they really should be all over this. There's so much to make fun of out there, whether it's the whacked out Tea Partiers or Glenn Beck or Rahm Emanuel (admittedly, they did a funny, expletive-laden Rahm sketch a few weeks ago) or Michelle Malkin or David Patterson or 'The Family" or D.C. gridlock, or our President smoking (our President smokes!)...why can't they find something in all of this? The Daily Show and the Colbert Report do it four days a week. When SNL tries, they so often fail it's painful to watch. Last week's opener mocked Harry Reid. Harry Reid=not funny. Making fun of Harry Reid? Still=not funny. This week they got on the (former) Congressman Eric Massa bandwagon, with a lame "exit interview". There was literally nothing in the sketch that (kind of) Massa hasn't actually said. The guy admitted to tickling his staffers. Isn't there a way to spin such a wildly weird confession into something even weirder and actually, you know, funny? (Crazy idea: Glenn Beck bitch-slapping Massa after his appearance on Beck's show? Something there? Maybe? Massa and Emanuel in the Congressional shower? Come on, do I have to do everything around here?!)

Complaining about the quality of someone else's work is easy; doing the work is hard. I know the rigors of a weekly show can be deadly. But here's the thing: there are so many great writers out of work right now (I know some of them) that it just pisses me off that the writers on SNL aren't doing a better job. What's going on here? The staff is huge--30 writers according to a blog I found (7 women; just saying). It's obviously an amazing gig, resume wise. They've added some 'new blood' in the past few years, but from what I've heard and read, the environment is so competitive and hierarchical and calcified it's almost impossible for new writers to get their sketches on the air. But...what could the newbies possibly be pitching that's less trenchant and less funny than a sketch about a fake 1960s game show?

I know: who the eff am I? But in one girls' opinion: Lorne, shake this shit up. Implement some new rules for a couple of weeks and just see what happens. Honestly, sadly, this shit can't get much worse. So:

NO sketches that have been done before; I know: But we already have the sets!, but Jesus h. Christ, humor is about surprise. Third time? "What Up With That" isn't surprising any more. And it's certainly not funny.

While we're at it: No skits about any type of "show" at all. Instead of spoofing TV why not just spoof the world? (It's really quite big, you know.) Unctuous game show hosts, clueless contestants and self-obsessed, semi-celebrities just aren't all that new, interesting or worthy of (more) attention.

No Andy Samberg digital short in which he camera hogs as a pathetic dude doing white guy hip hop. (Anyone else as sick of this piss ant as I am?) Give it--and him and us, please--a rest. He's not a genius. It's possible that "Dick in a Box" was an anomaly. Moving on.

Tell Kristin Wiig she has to come up with a new character, or two. She just has to. She possibly is a genius. Make her prove it again and we will fall in love with her again.

When you're all sitting around 30Rock? Try reading the newspaper. Closely. There is some whacked out crazy shit going on out there (not just D.C.; big business anyone?!) and if the giant staff of SNL can't riff on any of it...they may need to be pink slipped. Seriously. And in today's world, there should be plenty of people to take their places.