Deepest Condolences, Soap Fans

With absolutely no joking or sarcasm, I offer my deepest condolences to my co-blogger and all the other One Life to Live fans.

I can’t even come close to claiming I’m a soap fan in the traditional sense.  Outside of vague memories of my Mom watching All My Children, and Kristy keeping me entertained with well reasoned and supported arguments as to why one Joey Buchanan was the best, and retelling highlights of plots, I am all but soap ignorant.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t see where ABC’s misguided assumptions about achieving a bottom line have created a cultural travesty.  To replace something that’s endured for over 40 years with, well, reality tv, is abominable.

Oh, I get the business reasons.  It’s cheaper, yadda yadda yadda.  Believe me, I know.  I also know that business jack-asses rarely know as much as they think they know and statistics are easily manipulated.  Dollars and cents wise it may be cheaper to go to a reality show with lower production costs, even if the audience shrinks–at least in the short run.  Long run?  I’ve got my doubts.  Soaps are another victim in the ranks of creative programming (and by creative, I mean requiring writing and acting creativity, not just editing).

Even if I didn’t doubt the accuracy of the business decision, I’d still hate the over all cultural impact.  For one thing, it’s hard not to see the downfall of One Life to Live and All My Children has a kind of insult to women.  We’re the overwhelming portion of the viewership for soaps and have been from the start. And before that?  We were a listener-ship when these types of works were on the radio. For many of the soap fans I know, they started watching because older female relatives watched.  Kristy acknowledges her memories of her Mom watching soaps.  My Aunt (a PhD scientist) watched occasionally because my Grandma watches.  Another friend of mine watched because it was part of her summer stays with her Grandma who has passed on.  A girl in law school talked about watching with her Mom and Aunt to learn English when they came to the U.S.  Take away a multi-generational point of connection for so many women, and it’s hard not to have your feminist hackles rise a bit.

Additionally, while I never really dove into the genre, I’ve always been able to respect the unique way a soap is driven.  From a writing perspective, I’m in bloody awe. When you think that one of these series entails generating written scripts for Every. Single. Weekday. For. Decades.  Even if you have multiple writers, you have got to tip your hat to that–after all, sitcoms have whole teams of writers, too and they’re sure as shit not that prolific.  These writer are juggling an ensemble cast and at this point, over 30 years of back-story.  Creatively, that’s just fuckin’ impressive.  And for the actors?  Amazing.  I’m not going to claim that all soap actors are great (ZOMG, I have seen some seriously painful scenes in my channel surfing times), but when you pause to consider that these people are memorizing and performing a different script every week day of every week, year in and year out?  I can’t memorize a 6 item grocery list.  It took honest and painful effort to get myself off-book when I was playing a teensy little roll in Julius Caesar (Kristy’s fault) with maybe 5 lines, let alone entire scenes.  These people are acting machines!  In high school I got sent to a summer nerd camp for humanities and  arts.  One of the girls attending for drama was telling me how she really wanted to go into soaps.  She liked the idea of getting to play one role, but having new material every day and not spending a lot of time on that material.  She memorized quickly and liked to play the scene and move on to something else, so the world of soaps seemed to fit like nothing else.  Until then, I’d not really thought of the unique work this kind of programming offered for actors.  Now what will fill that creative-style void?

And the real shit of it is that through Kristy’s tweets and re-tweets about the end of the series, I was more intrigued than I’ve ever been before (even more than when Kristy was telling me about how someone had a sassy black woman in their head–honestly, how can you not have your interest piqued by that?).  A little activity like that on the part of the damn network would probably have resulted in drawing in more viewers like me and–with only minimal cost to capitalize on the power of social media–tipped that scale to a point where reality TV would be way less of a bargain that it is alleged to be.

But they didn’t, and now it’s just a sad day for a large fandom.  I’m truly sorry.

Playing the Trump Card

Before I go any further let me own up to something:  I am sure at some point in time or another I have committed the crime I am about to vent about.  I can’t remember doing it, but I can totally see myself doing it.  So yeah… I’m being a hypocrite but whatev… at least I own it.

When I used to teach college composition courses we used to study a Sojourner Truth speech.  I think it was called “Ain’t I a woman.”  I used it as an example of an effective argument.  In it she points out that Jesus was the creation of God and a woman—that man had nothing to do with it.  My students usually recognized the technique she was using; I like to call it “Playing the Trump card.”  Essentially she was saying “God believes in women’s rights.”  In nineteenth century America where if you didn’t believe in God you certainly didn’t admit it in public, such an argument was tough to counter.  While I totally agree with Sojourner on the whole women’s equality thing, I also recognize it as a dick move.

My problem with Trump cards is that as in that instance they are rarely valid arguments.  They are simply a move which puts your opponent into a position where if they continue arguing they look like an asshole.

My Dad likes to play it.  In his case the Trump Card is the fact that he was a veteran of the US Air Force.  Now this is not to in anyway trivialize that because our service men and women deserve our utmost respect.  And to do what he did requires a degree of patriotism I will probably never fully comprehend.  But not so long ago we were arguing about the “Pledge of Allegiance.”  I have a problem with the fact that Congress edited someone’s work without permission of his estate.  I have a special problem with the way they edited it.  My father disagrees.  He ends our argument with something along the lines of, “Having worn the uniform I understand it in a way you never can.”  If I had continued to argue I would have sounded like I was disrespecting his military service, which I had no desire to do.  But honestly… no, his military service does not give him special understanding of the intellectual property issues at stake or the value of separating church and state.  But Trump Card played, game over.

My brother played it last week.  We were arguing about the value of standardized testing in our schools.  I think that it’s ultimately harmful to students, he disagrees.  In the midst of a heated argument about everything wrong with our education system he pops out with, “You don’t understand.  You’re not a parent.” No.  I’m not a parent.  I’m just the person who has to teach these kids after they graduate from high school without learning how to write an essay.  And I nearly argued as such.  But everyone else present nodded in recognition of his special insight and I was stuck.  Had I continued to argue I would have been trivializing parenting.  Trump Card played, game over.

So anyway, Trump Cards are convenient, and fun to play, but keep in mind, doing so makes you an asshole.

Why MTV…MPB is breaking up with ABC

This post was originally going to be titled “When You Can’t Find the Rainbow’s End” and it was going to be a tribute/en memoriam to One Life to Live which, as was announced Thursday, will be going off the air in January.  I imagine that post will appear eventually.  But I’m not up to writing it yet.

For a while now being a OLTL fan has been a bit like having a family member or friend with a terminal illness; you know the end is coming, but you still hold out hope for a miracle.  After 43 years it seems the show is out of miracles.  I thought I would cry.  I still think I will eventually.  But I haven’t yet.  Wanna know why?

Because right now I’m too pissed off.

It’s not just because they canceled my show.  That makes me sad, but like I said, I knew it was a matter of time.  And I’m enough of a realist to know that television networks are businesses and they’re going to make their decisions based on money not emotional attachments.   What makes me mad is the way the whole thing has been handled.

Rumors of the impending cancellations have been really loud for the past several weeks (All My Children is going off the air in September).  According to what I’m hearing the decision to cancel AMC was made weeks ago while the final decision to cut OLTL was made last week.  The network knew about these decisions.  And yet, rather than responding to the rumors with the truth they threw out red herrings; AMC was getting a new, great head writer.   Roger Howarth (original Todd) would be returning to OLTL.  Granted, many fans were skeptical and saw these announcements as confirmation of the end rather than denial.  But that wasn’t how ABC tried to spin it.

Okay, fine, ABC wanted to control the story and announce when they were ready.  I think they should have done it sooner, but whatever.  I can handle their desire to issue the release in their own time.  Except they didn’t.  Instead they buried the news in a press release announcing the new shows which will be bumping the soaps out of their timeslots.  After four decades the alphabet network didn’t even think the ends of these shows deserved top billing in their own announcement.  Bastards.  Cat Hickland (former Lindsey, OLTL) tweeted that it was like your husband coming to you and saying he didn’t want to stay married, “But you’re going to love my new girlfriend.”  It’s actually more like your husband coming home one day and gushing about this new woman he’s in love with then saying, “By the way—obviously this means we’re over.”  Bastards.

And if I’m pissed about how the audience was told I’m even more pissed about how those who worked on the shows were told.  Robin Strasser who’s played Dorian on OLTL for the better part of four decades found out from a reporter; best I can tell she wasn’t at work the day the news broke so she didn’t get told with the rest of the cast.  I’ve heard the rest of the cast found out only shortly before the announcement was officially made.  I realize that the network was probably concerned that if they told the cast and crew someone would leak it before the official announcement.  What the fuck ever.  It was already being leaked all over the place; act like human beings for about twenty seconds, that’s all I ask.

But what’s really, really pissing me off is Brian Frons, head of ABC Daytime.  In the midst of talking up his new shows and how they’re exactly what the audience wants (more on those shows in a minute) he’s been cavalier.  He’s been making jokes about the cancellations.  Yes, Brian.  Hundreds of people just lost their jobs because of a decision you made.  That’s hysterical!  Imagine someone who ran any sort of manufacturing business announcing the closing of a major plant resulting in major layoffs and joking about it.  ABC needs to get this man away from the media stat.  He joked about preemptively joining the witness protection program.  Oh Brian, soap fans don’t want you dead.  They want you to live long enough to see your new shows fail and your network run into the ground by your decisions.  They want to see the day you find out from a reporter that you have lost your job.  And they want to laugh.

They may also want to saran wrap your car on a very hot day, but that’s another story.  (Please note:  It’s My TV, It’s My Peanut Butter does not advocate vandalism of anyone’s property.  Not even the property of rat sucking asswipes like Brian Frons.)

Then there are the condescending comments from Mr. Frons.  There isn’t interest in the shows anymore.  But One Life to Live trended on Twitter worldwide all day Thursday and into the wee hours of Friday morning.  There isn’t an audience for soaps.  Coming on the heels of Univision announcing a 24 hour telenovela network, that sounds a bit idiotic.  I think the problem, Brian, is there is not an audience for your soaps.  Because you did everything possible to drive them into the ground.

Then he tells us that the new shows are exactly what his audience wants.  Let’s consider them briefly.  AMC will be replaced by The Chew.  No, I didn’t make that name up.  And strangely, the show is apparently not about tobacco, no matter what the name suggests.  It’s like The View but it’s all about food.  I love food, I even like a couple of the cast members, and I still think it’s the most idiotic idea for a knock off show since I found out Animal Planet had a Ghost Hunters knock off which was basically, “People who live in haunted houses and have pets.”  Well if that idea’s stupid (and the name downright revolting) OLTL’s replacement is downright offensive.  It will be The Revolution a show about health and lifestyle transformations by the same people who brought us The Biggest Loser and Extreme Makeover:  Weight loss Edition.  Translation:  It’s a weight loss show.  Each week will show one woman’s five month weight loss journey.  Translation:  they are replacing a long running show targeted at women with one that will prey on women’s insecurities and tell us everything that’s wrong with our bodies.  Gee Brian, I didn’t know you were such an advocate for eating disorders.  Why don’t you just call the show “Your friend Ana.”

You know, I think I’d be less mad if he’d just be upfront and say, “We realize these new shows won’t get great ratings, or make for good television, but they’ll be so cheap to produce we don’t care.”

And in one final asinine comment, when asked what message General Hospital fans should take from their show being the last ABC soap left, Brian said that as long as GH had good ratings it was safe.  Last week OLTL had better ratings than GH.  Translation:  GH cast should invest in current headshots.

In my day I’ve seen a lot of beloved shows canceled before their time, but I’ve never seen in handled this badly.  I have never in my life campaigned for anyone to be fired, but starting in January I will boycott all ABC shows until I hear that Brian Frons has lost his job.

This Time Vampire is not My Job!

I just got an email from my boss ordering me to go to bed, so this will be a quick one.  Who am I to defy such and order?

Why am I so worn out that I’m getting such emails?  Well, largely because I’m a graduate student, and partially because someone still thinks it’s a great idea to pounce on my head in the wee hours of the morning.  But these things I can deal with.  What I’m pissed off about is that I’ve spent a lot of the past two weeks doing other people’s jobs for them.

In one of my jobs I’m the big lady in charge.  There’s no one higher than me.  So if things aren’t done by the time they get up to my rung of the ladder they aren’t getting done if I don’t do them.  Did I mention I also have two other jobs?  And am a full time student?  So there’s not a lot that pisses me off worse than my staff member sending me emails saying, “Hey… I have a busy week this week.  I was supposed to do X, Y, and Z… can you do it?”  Well sure, because I have nothing else to do.  And the worst is when they promise they’re going to do something, then proceed to not do it, thereby forcing you to do it.   Grrr….

You know what world?  I’m not doing your jobs until tomorrow.  Right now my job is sleeping!

Time Vampire: Asshats

You know them.  You loathe them.  They’re the people who waste your time.  The obnoxious lady at the DMV.  The stupid neighbor who shovels snow off of his drive…and onto yours.  The idiot boss who has no idea how do to what you do–but likes to tell you anyway.

If you’re the lucky sort, you adopt the “no-worries-water-off-a-duck’s-back” attitude.  They aren’t a time vampire for you because your Margaritaville-esque approach banishes them from your mind to allow room for things that matter, like new episodes of Bones, baking fabulous goodies, writing your novel, or rocking out to some New Pornographers.

I wish that I could be like you.  Really.

But I’m a member of the other half.  The ones that steam, stew, worry, fret and generally drive our blood pressure into areas best not explored if you want to live to see 70 (although, if at 70 you’re still battling the asshat with the snow shovel, one of you is going to need to shuffle loose the mortal coil soon–and if it has to be you, well, so be it).   You have an attitude that is like garlic to this time vampire (assuming certain versions of the whole vampire thing).  I‘m like a friggin’ blood bank.

Unlike other time vampires, this is one worth actively trying to defeat, if only for the potential health benefit (for me and for the asshats around me that I’m tempted smack).  I’ve tried Yoga (mildly successful), alcohol (too many side effects).  I’m finding playing the flying chicken game on Wii Fit Plus to be slightly more successful, but hardly a full solution.  The worst part of this vamp is that it destroys the you ability to focus and enjoy the very things that should help you relax.

Help.

I’m open to suggestions.

In Which Kristy Plays God (or the Devil)

When I was in high school and we were studying Dante’s Inferno we had to do a project where we designed our own version of hell.  Just like Dante we had nine levels and we had to decide what groups of evil doers we thought belonged in which levels of hell.  It was quite a cathartic exercise.

Misanthropes that we are, Cammy and I have decided that It’s My TV, It’s My Peanut Butter should have its own hell.  A place to put those people that really piss us off.

Today’s damned social group:

Stair Blockers

If you’ve ever had to run across a large college campus in fifteen minutes you’ve probably encountered this group.  You may have also met them when running to catch a metro train or perhaps even a bus.  They tend to travel in groups.  They’re those people who have nowhere in particular to be so they walk very slowly.  While talking to their friends.  In a position that blocks the stairwell completely, preventing you from getting by them.

If I make it through this semester without pushing several of them down a flight of stairs, it will be a miracle.

Now I’m willing to admit this is largely a sin of stupidity, rather than a deliberate one.  That doesn’t make them piss me off less, but it does persuade me to lessen their eternal torment.  For this reason I am condemning these assholes to the second level of hell.

Dear Minnesota,Wisconsin and Iowa Natives

Dear Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa Natives (but mostly the Minnesotans),

If I have to hear one more derisive laugh from you when I come in out of the 18 degree, windy temperatures looking frozen, I will not hesitate to kick your ass.  Yes, I know you come from a sub-zero, hellish wasteland.  I know natives of Norway who have said that Minnesota is too cold for them.   I understand you don’t have a whole lot else to be proud of, but, really?  What that means is YOU ARE INSANE.

And even if you weren’t, just because where you come from is colder, doesn’t mean that this isn’t cold right here in MO.  I have never and will never claim that it is.  But just because the onset of frostbite will take a few minutes rather than occurring instantly, doesn’t mean I lose the right to shiver and say “brrrr.”

I don’t get the arrogant bullshit out of my North & South Dakota associates and the last time I checked, they have temperatures just as chill-worthy.  Maybe they’re more humble, or just so damn glad it’s not as cold as they’re used to that they don’t want to jinx anything.

All I know is that the next time I have to endure one of y’all being all smug and saying, “The winters here are mild”?  Don’t be surprised when you hear, “Yeah, and so are the summers, so fuck you asshole.”  After all, I’m from Texas and far more of an expert on hot, humid, miserable summers than you Midwest Yankee SOB’s, so I guess I can be smug, too.

To those of you who hail from these locations and refrain from giving those of us to the south and shit over our intolerance for cold, I do appreciate you and your restraint.  Thank you for having more class than a some of the other natives of your home location.  It’s much appreciated.

Regards,

Cammy

WTF Drivers?!?!?!?!

Note:

The following entry features gratuitous swearing, cursing and foul language in general.  If you are offended by this, please stop reading.
What.  The.  Fuck.
I’m on travel (again) and my early morning flight combined with the fact that I’d left a document in my office had me on the road at o-dark-thirty.  I’ve been out and about at this hour before, but I’ll grant you, it’s not my regular commute time.  And if this morning was any example, I’m thanking baby-Jesus that I’m not out at this hour more often.  The drivers this morning were total fucking assholes.  Of the highest order (or lowest, depending on how you quantify this).  More than this, they were dangerous assholes, which piss me off more than anything.
I had not one, but TWO cars pass me, in a no passing lane on a narrow road that was under construction winding and poorly lit.  I was already speeding, but apparently not enough for these arrogant sons of bitches.  Of course they high-beamed me and road my bumper before they did it.  I was scared shitless with one of them riding right there (remember, I’ve been rear-ended recently), so I tapped the break.  I think this pissed him off because that’s when he high-beamed me.  Now, understand, this road has a 55 mph speed limit on a regular day.  In broad daylight, under perfect circumstances, I can do this stretch at about 60, except for one curve where there’s a crazy intersection and you never know when you’ll pop up on someone stopped and waiting to make a left.  But in the dead of night with uneven pavement, minimal markings, traffic cones and a posted speed limit of 45?  Yeah, sorry I’m only doing 50, but I kinda like my life.  The first one came early on and it was a beater.  The second one was a BMW.  I high-beamed the Beamer when he whipped back in front of me.  And I think he might have been a bit worried when I followed him right onto the secure facility where we both apparently work.
So, I grab what I need, recover and head on my merry way to the airport.  As I’m passing through one little down where again, the speed limit is 40, I’m doing about 48 because it’s early and so few folks are out.  Once again, a car starts riding my ass.  Oh for the love of shit.  So I bump it up to 50 to put a little more space, which he quickly absorbs.  I know better than to go faster because around a curve is a stoplight which is always red when I come through.  Always.  And of course, my friend the ass-leech waits until the outside lane has not just turned to a right-turn-only lane, but it’s actually mostly disappeared and the pavement is tapering off to pass me on the right.  I had to swerve into the left turn lane to avoid having my fender taken off.  And then the fuck-tard had the nerve to shoot ME the bird as the zoomed past.  Look, asshat, I’m not the one who needs remedial driver’s education, basic physics, and some kindergarten level training on behavior and respect.
Did I mention that this one was another Beamer?
And that stop light around the curve?  Yeah.  It was red.  Again.  He totally had to slam on his breaks and was immediately in front of me.  I’m not sure he could see me in his rearview mirror, but I totally pointed and laughed.  That made me feel a little better.  Not as much as a loaded RPG-7 mounted on the top of my compact car and aimed at his over-priced kraut-wagon, but I take what I can get.
Oh, but wait.  The driving portion of humanity was in fine form today and there’s MORE!
So, we’re on another divided highway.  I hate this stretch because the speed limit is 55, but it’s wide open and with long stretches between traffic lights (all of which you can see easily to slow down for).  My instinct is to go 70, but they do have cops lurking, so I have to reign in.  At 65, I’m usually fast enough to match the majority of the traffic, with those one or two speed demons to scrape up the cops.
But this morning, there was construction on this stretch (apparently they decided to repair every road in this state AT THE SAME TIME).  The two lanes were down to one, with the right lane occupied by a huge truck lit up with all kinds of lights and a few guys working around it.  I figured, for this, I ought to at least slow down to the actual speed limit.  So I did.  And as I did, two more vehicles came screaming up behind me.  These would be the speed demons who do 70 and catch the cops.
With the construction in the right lane, I couldn’t very well whip over.  So I gassed it a little more, and put my blinker on, to let the hemorrhoids know I was going to clear out ASAP.  Except I wasn’t fast enough for them (or they ignored my blinker–maybe they were from Illinois/Indiana and didn’t know what the flashing light meant).  As soon as I cleared the construction equipment, I started to move over.  Thank god I check my mirrors because hemorrhoid #1 squeezed through in behind me to scream past on the right.  I jerked back into the left lane.  Blinker still on, I started moving again, and Holy Shit, there was a damned Dodge pick up doing the same mother-fucking thing.  WTF?  I still had the blinker on.  Anyone except a God-damned blind man could see I was moving over!  Why the SHIT would you do that?  This is the mid-west where even Kristy has noticed, we really do drive in the right lane and use the left for passing.
I finally made it to the airport, and here I sit, pissed at humanity and struggling to figure out where the fuck people get off thinking they’re God-damn invincible in a fucking car.  Ignorant, arrogant jack-asses.  Even if you don’t kill or maim someone, do you know how much of a time-waste and total piss off it is for someone to have to have a vehicle repaired?  And I think I need a big honking sticker proclaiming the fact that I’m an attorney.  Maybe that would dissaude a few of them.  Yeah, I’m not licensed in this state, but I’m free to represent myself and it’s not going to cost me a dime to do it.  And since I know I’m following the rules of the road, I’m going to have a slam-dunk case against the lawyer you’re going to have to pay $200/hour.  And yes, I WILL sue for attorneys fees.
And my rate is $275/hour.
Assholes.