Sunday, December 31, 2006

Musings from an Angeleno: The Back Home? edition


I wish there were something meaningful I could say about my Christmas vacation to St. Thomas this year, something that would distinguish it from the seven other Christmas vacations that I've flown back home for.

It was better than the year Mummy embarassed me on New Year's Eve.

It was not as good as my first year of college, when I came back and discovered that in addition to going out to the Old Mill on Saturday nights like we did in high school, the places to be were Duffy's on Fridays, and the Green House on Tuesdays.

It was better than the year I missed Christmas with my friends because I was in St. Kitts on a cruise, and I spent New Year's Eve crying on the Lido deck after Grammy had been mean to me.

It was not as good as my senior year of college when I was hanging out at Duffy's and one of my former classmates told me that I looked good. He was buzzed, but I still liked the accurate appreciation of my physiognomy.

It was better than that time I was only home for 48 hours.

It was more eventful than last year. And that's saying something.

I'm glad I went, and I'm glad I'm back. But every time I make that 12-hour journey from St. Thomas back to LA, a part of me always wonders if either place will ever completely feel like home.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Musings from a St. Thomian: The Christmas Eve edition

(Imagine a picture of A Charlie Brown Christmas here.)

Being in St. Thomas for Christmas vacation is always an adventure. I've been making some poignant observations over the past few days. If any of my soupcons of brilliance grab you, feel free to share my bon mots with your friends. (Warning: Any or all of the words I wrote above, or below, may have been used incorrectly by me.)

1. People. Please keep your octogenarian relatives off the road. This goes for individuals 90 and above as well. If your Grandma or Auntie or Nenie was alive when the US purchased the Virgin Islands (in 1917), they should not be driving up and down Donkey Hill! Be a good grandchild or godchild or great-niece and give them a ride.

2. I miss the trio of Christmas bushes my Mummy put up last year. They deserve their own separate post, but long story short: it was like my mother had adopted three of Charlie Brown's unfortunate Christmas trees. The kind you have to wave your hands over with your big-headed friends to make look halfway decent. This year, Mummy got a real tree. Meaning something in an actual tree shape. Not something that came from the ground. If anything, it came from some plastic laboratory where the scientists create trees that grow their own lights. It's pretty. And Mummy added some new ornaments to make it extra festive. But I miss our sad little bushes. I liked them, Mummy!

3. Tonight at the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service that Mummy, Grammy and I attend each year, I encountered one of my many old crushes from high school. No, not the valedictorian that went to Yale. No, not the Jewish valedictorian that went to Yale. No, not the other Jewish one. Nope. That one. Yes, that one. I went up to him and said, "Hey." I wasn't completely sure it was him. Like I cared. I go up to anyone and say hi. I don't have to know them. I'm charming and adorable. Well, apparently he didn't think so. He was cordial. Cor. Dial. Yes, he did ask me if I was still in LA, and then he bragged about my film-related job to his parents. And he told me what he was doing with his life and where he was, and how he hung out with some of our classmates one time. But still. He wasn't impressed by me. And I am impressive. Hello! I looked so cute, too. :(

Whatever. He's not even going out while he's here. What is that about? Like he's too cool now to hang out in dirty parking lots outside of rickety-old shacks? Okay, yes, this past Friday at Duffy's was lame. But, come on. What else are you going to while you're here? I personally need to be entertained while I'm here, even if it is by people I barely talked to in high school, and skeevy old guys whose two-for-one drinks have deluded them into thinking I would dance with them. To each his own, I guess. :)

4. My niece. Well, my St. Thomas niece. She is so cool. She's ten months old now? Yes, ten months. I'll go with that. I'm so glad I finally got to meet her. I wish I could see her more often. She's friendly and curious and happy. And yes, she's very cute. But I don't like to say that about babies. Because most babies I see are cute. But what if you have a baby in your life that isn't cute? Furthermore, it's not like they can control how they come out. I was a cute baby. Then I went through an awkward phase, from when I hit puberty hard at eight, until...now. So.

5. My parents. I so should have gotten that family therapy session that I was talking about earlier this year. Dude. You'd think my Mummy and Grammy would know how to effectively communicate with each other by now. Mummy scoffs whenever I suggest therapy. But if it was a gift, she might be more receptive. I don't know about Grammy, though. I could tell her we were going to the mall, and then when she gets out of the car, Surprise!

6. I have watched all my Daria videos. I am now watching all my Flash Forward videos. In every episode, Ben Foster seems to be channeling Matthew Perry. Not really Friends Matthew Perry, but Studio 60 Matthew Perry. It's really weird. I doubt anyone reading this has tapes of Flash Forward so you can see what I'm talking about. But it's bizarre. It's like they went to the same Acting School for Dry Comedy Moments.

For those of you celebrating Christmas tomorrow, like I will be, have a good one. For those with other plans, enjoy the lack of traffic and the elbow room at the movie theaters.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

I Love The Office! You Should, Too.



Since my latest posts have been so heavy and thought-provoking and emotionally-draining for some (i.e. me), today I offer something light-hearted and fun:

Reasons I love The Office.

1. It's so funny.
2. Rashida hearts Jim.
3. Pam needs to say something to get Jim back. She burned him but good. But like in "Foreverwood," the last episode of Everwood (I'm still not over it, Dawn Ostroff!), where Amy waits outside of Ephram's apartment with the giant Ferris wheel, and Ephram's all, "I've always loved you, Amy"? Pam can do something big for Jim, and Jim will be all, "I've always loved you, Pam." But what about Rashida, Jim? What about Rashida?!

Ahem.

4. Stanley and Phyllis. Love. Them.
5. Ryan. Break up with Kelly already. But for real this time.
6. Angela. Because green is apparently a whory color. Who knew?
7. Dwight. He owns a beet farm. He thinks you can buy gaydar from Radio Shack. Finally, someone dorkier than I am.
8. Michael Scott. "Spamster."
9. Take Your Daughter To Work Day. Awesome. Ryan was so scared. Ha ha, Stanley was so funny.
10. Boys and Girls. "Do black people like pizza?"
11. The webisodes! So cute. When is Oscar coming back from his looong vacation? I miss him.
12. Creed staring that woman breastfeeding, then taking a picture of her boob. So inappropriate. So hilarious.
13. Kelly not knowing anything about Diwali, and Dwight knowing everything about Diwali. Perfect characterization about one of Dunder-Mifflin's "most ethnic employees."
14. Jan. Oh, Jan. So neurotic, so reluctantly in love with Michael.
15. Kevin's poor uncle Bernie, and Ryan's cousin Mufasa. Ha!
16. Michael, then Dwight kissing Oscar. Uncomfortable. I, like Ryan, had to look away.

I have many, many more. But chew on those for a while. I encourage you to suggest your own reasons for loving The Office as well.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

"I Can't Get a Job Because I'm a (White) Male."



It all started with this article in the latest issue Vanity Fair, entitled "Why Women Aren't Funny," by Christopher Hitchens. Here's an excerpt from the witty tome:

"...my argument doesn't say that there are no decent women comedians. There are more terrible female comedians than there are terrible male comedians, but there are some impressive ladies out there. Most of them, though, when you come to review the situation, are hefty or dykey or Jewish, or some combo of the three. When Roseanne stands up and tells biker jokes and invites people who don't dig her shtick to suck her dick—know what I am saying? And the Sapphic faction may have its own reasons for wanting what I want—the sweet surrender of female laughter. While Jewish humor, boiling as it is with angst and self-deprecation, is almost masculine by definition."

"Hefty or dykey or Jewish?" Okay, wow. There is so much wrong with that paragraph, and with the man who wrote it, that I won't even bother to attempt analysis.

I found out about Mr. Hitchens's piece (hee!) while browsing pamie.com and Feministing. The writers and readers of Feministing had some choice words for Mr. Hitchens. But pamie's post on the subject this Saturday was the one that sparked the "comedy blog war," i.e. humorous yet informed discussion, that I'm hoping to contribute to.

The first retallion shot was fired over the bow by pamie's friend Irwin on his blog, From Studio Twelve A. Irwin is currently "holding a knife to [his] penis" because "girl writers are getting hired just because they are girls ALL THE TIME. And some of them, aren't funny. Or they are funny, but not as funny as other people. This is fact." He asserts that since women comedy writers are as rare as "polar bears, or Native Americans" they are in higher demand, and are therefore taking away jobs from him and his fellow white male friends.

Irwin, put the knife down, and get over yourself.

pamie, who is a girl and a working comedy writer, then responded to Irwin's post with valid anecdotal evidence to prove her point. Here is one of my favorite passages:

"[Irwin's] main complaint is that a woman gets the job he thinks there are hundreds more men qualified for. There's one more slot in the room of ten writers, but instead of going to him...it goes to "some girl," and it doesn't matter if that girl is funny or not...

...Maybe the reason he's sometimes working with "the girl" who isn't funny is because in some cases when they have to hire "the girl," they go to their go-to girl: one they know won't make problems, or one they know from before, or one they don't think is pretty/sexy/flirty/single/straight enough to cause "problems," or one that has been waiting for such a chance and they're taking a risk, or whatever...Irwin fails to mention how many times he's found himself working with a man who's intensely unfunny, who every day he's like, "Guy! Why did they hire him?" Does he shrug his shoulders and go, "Must be because he's a guy. Damn this patriarchal comedy system!" No, he doesn't. The dick is never the reason why that dick got hired."

Exactly. There is usually ONE girl in the comedy writers room. ONE. The rest of the writers are guys, and they are almost exclusively white. Did Irwin ever question why most writers on television shows are white males? I doubt it. Because he'd have to take a hard look at the industry he works in, and admit his privileged place in the white patriarchal structure that runs it. He'd have to acknowledge that even though white males constitute less than 30 percent of the US population, they control over 90 percent of what goes on TV. (And countless other industries as well.) Yes, I know that Irwin is not one of the people who decides what programs go on our televisions. But the fact that he shares the same color AND gender of most of the the people who do make those decisions at every level? He needs to admit that gives him a leg up on the normalcy ladder, no matter how many polar bears and Native Americans are applying for the same job.

Today, Irwin posted a response to pamie's response. He asserts, "1. There are far less women writing comedy than men. Period." and, "2. Pamie does not fully understand because she is a great writer so it doesn't matter." He concludes his argument by stating, "now I shall go back to trying to be funny, despite the handicap between my legs."

Oy vey.

Again, too many eye-rolling things to comment on. I will agree that pamie is a great writer, proven by the fact that I purchased both of her novels. I just get so upset when I hear or read (white) males professing, "those women/minorities are taking our jobs!"

Irwin, have you ever considered how many jobs you have gotten simply because you are a white male? Before you automatically say, "None," I encourage you to think about it. Even if "none" is the correct answer, think about why the comedy writers' world is such that a distinct effort must be made to find a "female voice" for a show. Women make up 51% of the population. Why do the people who make comedies need a special search to find out how to speak to the majority of this country?

Additionally, why do you think you need to "hire a gay guy" to fill that niche? I'm neither gay, nor a guy, but I am a writer, and I am funny.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Musings from a Black Woman: That's a big bag, little lady.



White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack

I stumbled up this while reading Racialicious. When I hear certain people talk about how great it is here in the US of A, and how racism isn't such a big problem anymore, I like to refer to number 46:


I can chose blemish cover or bandages in "flesh" color and have them more or less match my skin.

Now you know full well there are no brown colored Band-Aids to be found in any drugstore, supermarket or SuperTarget in any corner of this country. That's a big reason why I purchase colorful Sesame Street, Care Bears or Hello Kitty bandages. It looks better than having some tacky peach colored adhesive strip on my skin. And people with that peach colored skin probably have never though about it ever. But I think about the implicit racism, every time I get a cut.

Yeah, not being able to find bandages in my skin color is not a life threatening issue. Neither is not being able to easily find face powder and concealer in my skin color, which happens a lot. But almost every one of those effects listed has occured to me at some point in my life, often repeatedly.

1. I can't arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time. I am still in need of a black friend here in LA. And I'm not going to take and exact count, but over 60% of the people I work with are white. Ergo.

2. I can avoid spending time with people whom I was trained to mistrust and who have learned to mistrust my kind or me. Well, I wasn't trained to mistrust anyone in particular. So...next?

3. If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area which I can afford and in which I would want to live. Okay, considering I live in LA, and rent is skyrocketing in every area (as if it was ever cheap to begin with), this isn't so much a race issue as it is a class issue. Or a Southern California issue.

4. I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me. Most of my neighbors, right now, are nice. They represent a few different colors and nationalities, too. But if I moved to a wealthier area so my currently nonexistent kids could go to better public schools, I don't know if my neighbors would be so tolerant of my brown-skinned presence. Hypothetical jerks.

5. I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed. Okay this one is a biggie. Half of the time I enter any store outside of my immediate neighborhood, I get asked by some ninny, "Do you work here?" or "Where can I find this?" In most cases, it is very clear that, No, I do not work at CVS (rolling my eyes), considering I'm not wearing a blue polo shirt or a nametag. Idiots. I am this close to getting that shirt made that I've been thinking about for months, that says, "I don't work here" on the front, and "What makes you think I do?" on the back. Unfortunately, half of the time the person asking is elderly or a child, so I can't YELL AT THEM like I want to. But the other times...I'm working on it. If one more uppity middle-aged white lady asks me snidely, "Do you work here?" I am going to let her have it. It will not be pretty, and she will leave the store crying. I'll be making men cry, too. No one likes to be called a racist, but sometimes you have to call a spade a spade. Yeah, I said it.

Go through the others yourself. There are 50 total. Either you'll feel bad about the privilege you never knew you had, or angry about the privileges that you never realized you deserved. It's guaranteed to make you feel neither warm nor fuzzy.

Some of my best friends are white people.


"I’m sick of white folks. It’s not just that we command an unseemly portion of the world’s resources, exploiting hundreds of millions of non-white folks and causing horrendous environmental damage in the process and then patting ourselves on the back for paying the merest lip service to righting our wrongs. It’s that when we make movies about the atrocities committed for our benefit and with our tacit consent, we insist upon setting up one of our own as the hero. It’s really pretty sick."


Check out Jeremy C. Fox's review of Blood Diamond at Pajiba. Even though I'm not personally "sick of white folks," I was totally digging his account of Hollywood movies that focus on the trivialities of white people at the expense of the more important stories of the brown people involved. That was why Bring It On: All or Nothing warranted such a favorable review from me: even though Hayden Panera Bread was the lead, the movie focused on the brown people as well. Unlike its predecessor, Bring It On, which followed Kirsten Dunst and her pale cheer-stealing team, instead of Gabrielle Union and her band of plucky brown performers.

And yes, I love me some Leo DiCaprio. I have since Growing Pains. However, I must echo the sentiment, "
What accent does Leonardo DiCaprio think he's doing?" Because I so cannot tell from those commercials. Blood Diamond takes place in South Africa, but from the way he was talking, I thought he was The Last King of Scotland.