5:46 am - Sun 10/20/02
(I know I complain about my sleep a lot, but lately, things seem to have gotten even worse; I fall asleep in moments, but can't seem to stay asleep to save my life. In addition to the "mini-awakenings" associated with sleep apnea, I'm having "maxi-awakenings", associated with I-don't-know-what.)
Well, it's certainly not the end of the world, but it seems like a slightly negative development; Kelly at JS Represents is leaving (She's taken a job doing something at her church, which I think is interesting; Somehow, I've never made the association of "agents" with "church". But anyway...).
I've only been there a week-and-a-half, so it's not like she and I had formed some unbreakable bond, but still, she's been the "face of the organization" for me thus far (The "organization", as of Friday, consisted of Jon Strotheide--the "JS" in JS Represents--her, and two part-time underlings). And I'm also concerned with how things will run until a replacement is hired and up-to-speed.
In a recent mass email, JS said he wanted to meet with actors individually over the coming weeks, but that if you'd signed with the agency in the past month, you didn't need to. I find that odd--After all, who needs to meet with him more than someone who hasn't actually met him yet? (He was in the office when I went in to fill out my paperwork on the 8th, but never introduced himself, which I found a little "off-putting")--but I don't know if I should call and suggest a meeting with him if he's already said it wasn't neccessary.
I've been enjoying my time off thus far (My normal "weekend" is Thursday and Friday. Yesterday was the first day of my one-week vacation).
I've read Live From New York..., a new book on Saturday Night Live that's been getting great reviews (It's basically interviews with everyone the authors could get a hold of that's ever been connected with the show).
I've also seen Punch Drunk Love, the Paul Thomas Anderson movie with Adam Sandler, Bowling for Columbine, the new Michael Moore documentary on the American gun culture, and have started reading I Know This Much Is True, a novel by Wally Lamb that I bought in hardcover for a buck, at an outside table at a used bookstore.
Reading about Saturday Night Live made me think about my own history with the show.
I was in junior high when the show first started.
I would stay up for it, or try to stay up, anyway, but often as not, I'd fall asleep and wake up in the middle of the most interesting things; Andy Kaufman doing his "Foreign Man" character (Segueing into a killer Elvis impersonation), Gregory Hines performing with Eubie Blake, Lorne Micheals offering the Beatles $2500 to reunite on the show, John Belushi doing "Samurai Night Fever".
Or sometimes--and I did this again just last night--I'd stay up for the show, only to fall asleep just long enough to miss "Weekend Update", the only reason I'd wanted to watch the show in the first place.
At that point, it was still cool just to be up late, and to be watching something I knew was kind of hip and...subversive. Even if I could often barely keep my eyes open.
Then over time, it was just what I did because I was up and didn't have a social life and there wasn't anything else on.
In the book, Gilbert Gottfried describes the show as "A so-so restaurant in a great location", and I think that description is pretty accurate. My experience of the show through the years is that it "misses" way more often than it "hits", and I can't recall the last time I watched it and laughed out loud. On the contrary, it's often jaw-droppingly bad.
But that said, it's undeniably a part of my life. I watched it consistently for years, and even after that, checked in periodically to see if I was missing anything. And with all the catch-phrases, the parade of characters, the performers who have successfully made the leap from the show to big screen success (Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, Mike Myers, etc), you can't deny the profound impact its had on pop culture for the past 25 years or so.
But I wouldn't say it's had a major impact on my own "comic sensibility". It would be pretty far down on my list, after Charles Schulz and Bugs Bunny cartoons, great sitcoms (like M*A*S*H, Mary Tyler Moore, The Bob Newhart Show, etc), great stand up comics like George Carlin and Richard Pryor, and novels like Catch 22 and Catcher In The Rye.
(It occurred to me while reading the book--And I found the book fascinating, by the way. Over 500 pages, and I read it in two days--that, like horror movies, I enjoy reading about Saturday Night Live more than I ever enjoy actually watching it. I think that's an interesting phenomenon...)
I would say, after seeing three movies now, that I'm definitely a fan of Paul Thomas Anderson. I loved Boogie Nights, was intrigued by Magnolia, and really enjoyed Punch Drunk Love. All three movies have been unlike anything I'd seen before, and the older I get, and the more movies I see, the more I appreciate that.
I think what I enjoyed most about Punch Drunk Love was, amazingly enough, Adam Sandler (I say "amazing enough" because I am very much not an Adam Sandler fan).
What was so interesting to me about my response to Adam Sandler's character in the movie is that it was, basically, the same character he's played in the past--A man-child, inarticulate almost to the point of mild brain damage and prone to violent fits of rage--but placed in a different context; Unlike The Waterboy or Happy Gilmore, where the character is a figure of fun--He's a very low-brow Everyman--in Punch Drunk Love, those same traits are made genuinely, sympathetically human. This is a very lonely, unhappy, damaged man, and under those circumstances, I found it very easy to feel for the guy. I wanted him to find happiness and "true love" (The main criticism I've read about the movie is that it doesn't make any sense that Emily Watson's character, a seemingly normal woman, falls in love with this emotional basket case. But for some reason, I didn't have a problem with that. I just wrote it off as part "Florence Nightengale Syndrome" and part an inherent knowing on her part--Underneath the emotional baggage, this is a good soul.
Anyway, I liked it. It managed, for me, the neat trick of being something new and different, yet at the same time satisfying my desire for the traditional romantic-comedy happy ending.
And beyond that, it made me interested, for the first time ever, in what Adam Sandler will be doing next (I believe it's a movie called Anger Management with Jack Nicholson).
Yesterday, I saw Bowling for Columbine.
I don't always like Michael Moore. I agree sometimes with the critics who say that his methods can seem questionable, his technique scattershot, and that he can come off as both taking a simplistic view of things, and being more than a tad sanctimonious.
But that said, I thought the movie was tremendous, and speaks to some of our societies most pressing issues.
The movie was both hilarious, disturbing, and heart-wrenching (And when at the end he interviews Charleton Heston at his gated Beverly Hills estate, it's all three at once). I think it would be impossible to come away from the film without agreeing with Moore that something is profoundly wrong with American society.
I said in here some time back that, much to my embarrassment, I thought guns were pretty cool, even though I know they "kill people".
After the movie, I found myself wondering if I'd still think guns were "cool" if someone broke into Mark and Jane's house and shot them, or if I ended up in a wheelchair after being caught in a convenience store hold-up, or in the crossfire of a drive by.
I hope I never find out.
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