As the fall television line up makes its debut,  it’s time to be grateful for the creative and original stories represented on the small screen.   Without networks taking chances on new premises and characters we would be stuck watching the same old bad television I was subjected to as a child. Of course they would probably have to be updated a bit and so, in case the networks do run out of original ideas, I offer this:

Horrible Reboots of Bad TV Shows

(That should never happen)

my_mother_the_car_logo

My Mother the Car

Original Bad Premise (as explained by Wikipedia)

The show follows the exploits of attorney David Crabtree (played by Jerry Van Dyke), who, while shopping at a used car lot for a station wagon to serve as a second family car, instead purchases a dilapidated 1928 “Porter” touring car. Crabtree heard the car call his name in a woman’s voice, which later turned out to be that of his deceased mother, Gladys (voiced by Ann Sothern). The car, a valuable antique, is a reincarnation of his mother who talks (only to Crabtree) through the car’s radio. The dial light flashed in sync with “Mother’s” voice. In an effort to get his family to accept the old, tired car, Crabtree brings it to a custom body shop for a full restoration. The car was originally coveted by a collector named Captain Manzini even before its restoration, but Crabtree purchases and restores the car before Manzini can acquire it. For the rest of the series, Crabtree is pursued by the avaricious Captain Manzini, who is determined to acquire the valuable automobile by hook or crook.

 

The Horrible Reboot –

My Mother the Smart Phonemy-mother-the-smart-phone

Follow the exploits of programmer Diane Crabtree, who while trying to create a new smartphone OS, discovers the personal assistant portion of her prototype has stopped being functional and instead criticizes her requests and offers a lot of unsolicited advice.   The voice also sounds very familiar. When the phone, without any prompting, asks Diane “You’re not really going to wear that outside, are you?”, Diane puts it all together and realizes her smart phone prototype is the reincarnation of her deceased mother, Gladys. The ensuing argument between Crabtree and her mother/phone is overheard by a competitor; the rival programmer is blown away by the intricacies of the AI and vows to steal the prototype to reverse-engineer it.

Meanwhile, Crabtree is dismayed to find her prototype is just as dysfunctional as her relationship with her mother;   because even though she is the phone, Gladys confounded by technology, cannot figure out how to make herself work.

 

The Mothers-in-Law

mother in law_Original bad premise (synopsis from IMDB)

Roger and Kaye live next door to Eve and Herb. Eve and Herb’s daughter Suzie marries Roger and Kaye’s son, Jerry. This forces the families to be a bit closer than they would prefer, particularly since Jerry and Suzie live in the garage.

The Horrible Reboot –

The Mothers-In-Law Apartment

Mohters-in-law-apartmentRoger and Kaye have been lifelong neighbors to Eve and Herb. Eve and Herb’s son, Steve, marries Roger and Kaye’s son, Jerry. This forces the families to be a bit closer than they would prefer, particularly since the housing boom in San Francisco has caused Roger and Kaye and Eve and Herb to lose their apartments and now they must share the single in-law apartment in Steve and Jerry’s Noe Valley Victorian.

 

My Favorite Martian

Original bad premise (synopsis from Wikipedia)My_Favorite_Martian_title

A human-looking extraterrestrial in a one-man spaceship crash-lands near Los Angeles. The ship’s pilot is, in fact, an anthropologist from Mars and is now stranded on Earth. Tim O’Hara, a young newspaper reporter for The Los Angeles Sun, is on his way home from Edwards Air Force Base (where he had gone to report on the flight of the X-15) back to Los Angeles when he spots the spaceship coming down. The X-15 nearly hit the martian’s spaceship and caused it to crash.

Tim takes the Martian in as his roommate and passes him off as his Uncle Martin

The Horrible Reboot –

My Favorite MartinezMy-favorite-martinez

When Carlos Martinez, a young journalist for the LA Times, has his Uncle Ramon move in with him, his landlady suspects Ramon is an undocumented immigrant. Little does she know how right she is. Ramon is an illegal alien – from Mars.

On his way home from covering a story on SpaceX’s latest launch, Carlos encounters Ramon’s downed craft, which has been damaged by space junk in Earth’s orbit. Ramon moves in with Carlos while he repairs his space ship.   Staying one step ahead of Elon Musk, NASA and US Immigration, Ramon keeps up a snarky commentary on humanity’s foibles, including how easy it is to mess with the Mars Rover and the misguided notion that all humanoid extraterrestrials are blue, green or Caucasian.

 

Gilligan’s Island

The Premise

The Horrible Reboot

Gilligan’s Server

Skip and Gil invite five random people to check out their new Minecraft server. Everything is going well until they discover they can’t log off. Also none of their mods work. Even worse, the five random users turn out to be noobs who ask the same inane questions over and over again in chat. Hilarity ensues.Gilligan's-server-title

 

 

ShyThis is my first memory of it: I am five years old, shopping with my mother at Kmart. We run into a friend of my mother’s. The friend says hello to me and asks me how I am. I stare up at this unfamiliar adult; I don’t know what to say. I’m not sure how I am. The person’s fixed smile and expectant gaze makes me uncomfortable but I’m pretty sure I’m not supposed to say anything about it. My silence goes on for too long. Then my mother says in an apologetic tone, “She’s shy.” And that’s when I know how I am – I’m shy. My mother will say this many more times throughout my life with her. Eventually the apologetic tone will change into one of annoyance and embarrassment as I remain shy well into my teens.

When I reach my 20’s I begin to recognize that certain goals I have set for myself can only be achieved by meeting and talking to people. I feel this most sharply when attending classes at the Film Arts Foundation. I want to make movies in a serious way, but as I sit through a seminar on screenwriting or a workshop on Super-8 cameras, I take notice during the breaks that people are talking to each other. At first I tell myself these people must all know each other from previous classes, but as I eavesdrop in on conversations I realize that no, they are meeting right there before my very eyes. Not only that, but they are talking about their film projects, they are talking about working with each other, they are networking. But I am shy, which based on the tone and context my mother and teachers used when discussing my introverted nature, is a bad thing. If only I had stopped being shy when my mom pointed it out to me, when teachers coerced me to speak up in class, when my college advisor told me I was too quiet and that made me boring. But instead I just felt embarrassed and ashamed and then defiant. Screw you, world, I had thought on those occasions, you think I’m quiet now? Just you wait, I will never speak again.

Of course I did speak again, but it wasn’t until my 20’s that I started trying to figure out ways to become less shy. There were many, many well-meaning people along the way who would tell me I just had to get out of my comfort zone and do it; they had been very shy but now they had become comfortable talking to everyone. A therapist recommended Toastmasters, I perused the Learning Annex catalog, a bastion of self-help and self-improvement seminars, and considered taking “How to Make Small Talk” and “Become a Master Conversationalist” but I doubted a 3 hour lecture would take me from being unable to make eye contact to being the life of the party (or film-making class). Finally I started consciously running a reminder script in my head, “Make eye contact. Say hi.” Surprisingly, when I remembered to do it and made the effort, it actually worked! Soon I found myself with another problem: making eye contact and saying hello gave many people the impression that I wanted to talk to them.

To be fair, I did want to talk to them, but only about the things I wanted to talk about and I quickly observed there was an anticipated flow of conversation with someone you had just met. Apparently there had to be a neutral starting point, small talk involving trivial observations about the weather or the class we were taking. Following this was a low-key getting to know each other Q & A: who are you, where are you from, etc. etc. If you could make it past all these hurdles then you might be able to gracefully bring up the thing you wanted to say in the first place – “Will you do the special effects make up for my film?”; “Can I be your camera assistant?” If I didn’t stall out during the small talk portion, I usually hit the “getting to know you” questions too hard and the other person would bail out, most likely feeling as if he was being grilled by the cops rather than enjoying a casual chat.

Thank the universe for the extreme extroverts of the world who are not bothered or unnerved by a mostly silent conversation partner. It’s not surprising that many of the people who came in and out of my life in my 20’s and early 30’s were flamboyant, outspoken, and enjoyed being the center of attention. It was a mutually beneficial relationship for the most part, although I confess to intentionally using their boisterous personality for my own purposes, especially when it came to film making and putting people in front of my camera.

When my first son came along I decided it was time to really grow up and quit being shy. I wanted him to have a good role model for social interactions.  While I never thought to do this for myself, I was willing to do almost anything for him (later I would completely rid myself of my fear of spiders on his behalf, but despite best efforts, my fear of heights remains intact). I joined a mother’s club and playgroups, volunteered at school events, and hosted birthday parties. I tried very hard to act like the other mothers, to fit in, in hopes that my son would learn to fit in as well. It didn’t work out.

Despite putting myself into all those social situations, I was still shy, or I suppose socially anxious as it’s called now. I did make a few good friends, other moms who, like me,  did not easily fit in at mom-centric events like PTO meetings and Pampered Chef parties.  There was also another problem; by age 2, my  son was actively avoiding his peers. Things did not improve in preschool and by age five, at the behest of his kindergarten teacher, we had him evaluated by a child development specialist. Asperger’s Syndrome was the diagnosis. Considered a high functioning form of autism, Asperger’s Syndrome can make social interaction very difficult: “The social communication deficits in highly functioning persons with Asperger syndrome include lack of the normal back and forth conversation; lack of typical eye contact, body language, and facial expression; and trouble maintaining relationships.”  Huh. How about that?

My son has just started high school and I don’t think any of his classmates or teachers would classify him as shy.  He’s not the most talkative kid around, but when he has something to say, he says it without hesitation.  I also have a second son who is a natural extrovert.  He makes friends every where and talks to everyone.  At seven he is far more socially savvy than I have ever been.

As for me, I recently made a conscious decision to no longer work towards becoming the extrovert I had long believed existed inside me if only I put myself out there and really tried. I have tried, and with age I’ve gotten better at successfully negotiating social situations, but I feel it’s time to honor the introvert that I am. It feels wonderfully rebellious to no longer beat myself up over my given nature. Obviously I do need to function and interact with society at large, but if I fail to have a conversation with other parents on the school yard at pick up time I’m going to be okay with that. I’m good at smiling and nodding, so when the chatty cashier at the grocery store begins to monologue about something or other, I’m not going to shut him down, instead I’m going to appreciate what he has to say and also that I’m good at giving others room to speak. I very much enjoy listening. Also, I can be talkative when with the right person, so if I’ve ever talked your ear off, know that in my book we’ve made an honest connection.

Finally to all the people who, for whatever reason, love to put introverts on the spot by pointing out how quiet they are I have to say – Stop it! Seriously, cut that out. It’s not helpful and you look like a jerk. I know it’s hard to see in the moment, but I’m not being quiet because I dislike you; I don’t dislike you unless you say something like, “Wow, you just never stop talking . . . ha ha ha.” At which point my newly rebellious introvert self will reply, “Well, you know how the saying goes, if you don’t have anything nice to say . . .”

Then again, perhaps I will defiantly say nothing at all.

A blood thirsty horde has invaded my home, attacking any living thing they can sink their epipharynx in to. The mere thought of how many there are makes my skin crawl . . . and itch. No wait, that itching is from the bites. It’s been a bad year for fleas at my house.

Currently I’m treating the situation with as many natural, non-toxic solutions I can find; diatomaceous earth on the cats, floors and furniture, cedar oil to protect us humans. Just when I think I’ve got it under control and let up a bit with the vacuuming and laundering, a new wave hits. I’ve read that fleas can pupate, or stay in their cocoon before emerging as an adult, for weeks or months until they get the signal in the form of vibrations, heat, or carbon dioxide, that tells them a host is near, and only then will they emerge. That’s pretty amazing.

Cat-fle-Cthulu

Proportions of cat flea may have been altered slightly to prove my point.

They’re also rather scary looking close up. My youngest son pointed out that they bear a slight resemblance to Cthulu.  I find this makes the situation slightly more bearable, because rather than fighting off several generations of pests, I’m now fighting off a legion of tiny, multi-dimensional old gods. That’s way more exciting than trying to simply rid my house of fleas. Which brings me to the question – why are there no giant flea horror movies?

 

 

Four Reasons Giant Fleas Would Be the Ultimate Summer Blockbuster Menace

1.) Fleas can jump up to 80 times their own body length, so if the giant fleas were just 6 ft tall they would be capable of scaling the Empire State Building in just a few bounds. They would also look spectacular downing low flying aircraft trying to annihilate them with missiles and bullets which would be ineffectual because . . .

2.) Like most insects, fleas have hard exoskeletons. Anyone who has tried to squish a flea with her fingers knows it’s nearly impossible. If small fleas are difficult to kill, just think how indestructible  their giant counterparts would be.

3.) Fleas feed on blood, but not in the seductive, sexy way vampires do.   Fleas have weird mouth parts which include combs and spikes for piercing and sucking not to mention skin-dissolving saliva. The potential gross out factor in the first feeding scene is mind-boggling.

4.) Finally, a single adult female flea can lay up to 40 eggs a day.  Combine an army of giant fleas laying eggs all over the world  with the flea’s ability to stay in the pupae stage until favorable conditions arise, and you’ve got yourself almost as many sequels as my cats have fleas.

Personally I would love to shoot this film myself, but I’m too busy trying to contain the flea invasion of my home. If you know of an actual giant killer flea movie (it seems so obvious, one must exist) let me know.

flea-filmstrip

knightressM1Very excited to once again be playing keys with Emily Palen and her genre-defying group, KnightressM1, this Saturday at El Rio in San Francisco.  An added bonus for me is that I will be sharing the stage with fellow Debora Iyall Group alumni (?) Robert Tucker on drums!  Show starts at 9 PM, $7 gets you in the door.   Also on the bill: Swoop Unit and Stymie and The Pimp Jones Luv Orchestra

I have never been good at counting my blessings; I’m far too negative for that. Those chipper, upbeat people on my Facebook feed (how did I even get these friends?) are constantly posting positive, life-affirming sayings, and it takes a great deal of will power on my part to not refute each and every one as oversimplifying, sugar coating or self-aggrandizing the true nature of our existence. Luckily I was taught not to say anything if I have nothing nice to say and so I remain, to most people, very quiet.

However, I sometimes feel the need to take a life inventory of sorts, just to remind myself how none of this makes any sense, but here I am and no matter what, it could always be worse.

Here then, in my most positively pessimistic perspective, is my list of miseries and how it could be worse:

1.) I make music that absolutely no one wants to hear. It’s my passion, my heart and soul, but apparently my heart and soul is lacking, boring, potentially dated and out of tune (do not tell me it’s because I’m a downer , not while The Cure and Morrissey are still touring).

It could be worse. I could be loaded with talent and still just as obscure and nowhere, like many of my truly gifted friends.

2.) My house is an absolute pig-sty having just spent the last week and a half enjoying a visit from a friend and her children and making little effort to contain the chaos.

It could be worse. I could have high expectations of my housekeeping abilities and spend the next week stressed out while working towards a presentable home. Instead I will take this opportunity to continue to enjoy the summer and host many more social engagements, knowing I won’t have to clean up much afterwards to maintain status quo. All the while I will not worry that my friends are secretly judging my messy home and deciding my best efforts are not good enough; I made no effort. Perfect!

There is the added bonus of boosting my friends’ confidence in their own housekeeping standards. Once they leave my place they will have a bright new perspective on how nice their homes truly are. I am a good friend!

3.) I’m turning 46 in a few weeks. How did that even happen? I was 27 just a minute ago and now here I am starting the 4 year countdown to 50. What have I even done with my life? Do I really need to go any further with the physical aging process? Because I know how it ends and I don’t like it. And . . .and . . .reading glasses!

 It could be worse. I could still be living with the youthful optimism that it will all work out without any effort on my part. That was a big lesson I learned only in the past 6 or 7 years: if there is such a thing as fate, you have to get her number and harass her regularly to get her to work for you. Or you can just do the work yourself (easier).

 Also gone is the underlying anxiety of where my life might take me because I finally know:  it’s taken me right here, a messy home with a couple of kids who, I hope, are enjoying summer break with their mom, a woman who isn’t stressing over things that don’t matter that much.

 Without being too optimistic, I’d like to say I am okay with where I am right now (although being at Comic Con this weekend would be good too).  There’s still some road ahead with potential twists and turns, but I think I’m better at navigating it than I was in my youth. Or not.

I certainly don’t see myself embracing the bright side of things anytime soon, so I’ll stick with counting my miseries and my life long philosophy. . .Could have been worse

140614-Flyer-for-Conn-Yankee

Image  —  Posted: June 18, 2014 in Light Phases, music, Pop Culture
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only loversjpgI spent Saturday afternoon at The Opera Plaza Cinema watching Only Lovers Left Alive, exactly where I had wanted to see the movie when I first heard about it. While the film does have a very 90’s feel – Jarmusch, vampires, Tilda Swinton, a soundtrack of moody, heavy guitar, it did not allow me to time warp back to 1995 as I had hoped: Indie Movie  Time Machine. You can travel back in time, but only while the movie is playing. No, I didn’t get that experience.   Instead I felt anchored to my present reality, one in which I’m rather busy with my family and new music and the slightest attempt at starting my own business. It’s nice to be so connected to my current life, but I do enjoy getting lost in a good movie and I’m afraid this one just wasn’t powerful enough to make that happen.

When it was over, my fellow film goers agreed it was visually beautiful, but slow-paced, with moments of dry humor. It seemed to me that seventy percent of the main characters’ dialogue consisted of historical and scientific facts, a constant reminder of the ages and information the vampires had witnessed and absorbed in their long lives.

“Do you think it was written that way out of sarcasm or irony?” asked one of the women in our group. “I mean they were such snobs. Was he  making a point about snobbery?” I’ll go with that. Perhaps the point is that the thinking-man’s vampire will become turgid, not with blood but knowledge that, while impressive, can become just as much a crutch as violence or melodrama when used so extensively.   Or perhaps I’m the real snob here. . . But then, Tom Hiddleston.

Meanwhile, back in my everyday life, I’m excited to be part of KnightressM1’s upcoming show at the Milk Bar in San Francisco on June 5th. Violinist/vocalist Emily Palen is the creative force behind KnightressM1, and she is one of those rare people with a direct connection to the music god(dess).   I first saw and heard Emily at The Red Devil Lounge with the band, Dolorata and she has since gone on to play and record with many groups in the Bay Area as well as the Foo Fighters. The music I’m helping her bring to the stage is more electronica influenced than the music she regularly performs with her power trio. It’s beautiful and compelling and I was immediately drawn to it. It’s also subtly complex and nuanced. It is definitely challenging me in regards to knowledge of my gear, Ableton Live, as well as my musicianship.

Here’s a song we will be performing on June 5th.  Enjoy!