May 14th, 2006

xmas me

Kidnapping, soulmates and pizza:

So last night I was slightly less housebound than I anticipated, since I was kidnapped to engage in discourse and decision-making on the most important issue facing us, as Americans, today. I speak, of course, of the upcoming fall TV schedule.

(Actually, as it turned out, the advertisers for the event were just slightly exaggerating, but I anticipate.)

The actual event was held at a hotel on the 17th Street Causeway, a driving approach that allowed three of us to exchange loving and warm memories of the 17th Street Causeway:

"I threw up there once," I said cheerfully, pointing. "Actually a lot more than once."

"And honey, that's where you threw up," said another person in the car to person three.

"I don't remember that," he protested.

"Trust me," she said.

"I've just thought about throwing up here," said the fourth person.

We pointed out other throwing up landmarks and the place where they used to be Very Mean to the Dolphins (this is the old Oceanworld site, now ripped down and replaced by the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, allowing its current residents to be cruel to miserable angst ridden students instead of happy frolicking dolphins, seen as an improvement by all) and the Hyatt Regency Pier 66, which, I'm very very sorry to say, now requires you to rent out the top 360 room instead of just allowing you to go there and enjoy vastly overpriced drinks. None of us could remember actually throwing up at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 though, which definitely lowered its enticement value.

All nostalgic, we piled into the room which cheerfully told us that we would be watching Television Previews, an event that quite naturally meant that we had to spend time choosing which specific products we would REALLY want from various pictures of products, in things like this: pictures and pictures of various types of sanitary pads; pictures and pictures of various types of athlete's foot treatment; pictures and pictures of a multitude of other products, all of which brought me to the sudden and fierce revelation: I, as a person, actually have no preference or interest whatsoever in athlete's foot products. Nor I have spent the desired amount of time comparing various Band-Aids. It was clear that I had wasted my life.

"They should've just given us cash," grumbled the person who couldn't remember throwing up.

As it turned out we were filling out something to let us potentially win a raffle, which, we didn't. As it also turned out, the place was not serving any food or drinks. This problem was swiftly solved by the person who had just thought about throwing up, who, as people who think ahead do, had fortified us with snacks: gummy worms and caramels. She passed them out. I couldn't open my caramel. This was very sad and made me feel like a completely inadequate person, so I bit off the heads of lots of little worms in compensation.

Luckily, the announcer came out to tell us that the TV shows would be starting quickly and we were one of several focus groups in such exciting places as "Vegas!" Which made us all feel rather inadequate about Fort Lauderdale since nobody says "Fort Lauderdale!" in that sort of "I could win money and get married and divorced in a day!" tone that Vegas garners.

The person who just thought about throwing up sighed and noted that her friend was heading to Vegas to see Avenue Q. "That bitch," she said.

"Eat more worms," I suggested.

The announcer continued to address the racially but not particularly agedly mixed crowd. [This being South Florida, we were decidedly among the younger members of the group. This gave us the distinct disadvantage of being able to hear everything.] He warned us that all kinds of things can skew our viewpoints about television shows: comfortable chairs. Sound systems. Food. This was why we were now in uncomfortable chairs theoretically without food.

"You screwed up the data," I said.

"Shut up," I was told.

The announcer also said that we had to refrain from telling those around us what we thought about the shows we were about to watch, and especially refrain from making negative statements. Three heads turned around and looked at me. "What?" I said.

And with that, it was time to watch Soulmates, which seemed specifically designed to remove any feelings of inadequacies whatsoever.

Part of the problem was that this was originally written and filmed as a considerably longer show – a miniseries or made for TV movie – cut back to 25 minutes, which made it, essentially, incomprehensible, and part of the problem was that it was simply blindingly and marvelously idiotic. The, um, plot, and severe apologies to the word "plot" and to people who create plots for a living, had something sorta to do with two (or maybe three) people who kept getting born, (or reborn), heading to Hawaii, and then killing people and grabbing rocks around, only not that coherently. Also it had a subplot about a girl wearing boys briefs in multiple scenes, but her role, other that to provide a starting discussion point of why women cheating with married men should really be wearing better underwear and why Hollywood seems to remain so ignorant of the inner workings of the airline industry, was otherwise fairly pointless. On the bright side once it was over I felt that while I may not have much to offer the world, I can at least say, with pride and dignity, that I had nothing whatsoever to do with the creation of this atrocity.

After this we answered some questions (Did we like the show? No. Did we think the actor/actress had chemistry? No) and shivered in not-delighted anticipation of the next show. I chewed more gummy worms in preparation. This next show, however, was actually amusing – it was a Valerie Harper vehicle filmed about 15 years or so ago, shown to us to see if we would be interested in seeing Valerie Harper doing more or less the same thing now, which led to the question of why, of all of things that she's filmed that they could have shown us, were they showing us this? But at least our ears didn't hurt.

After this we found the real reason why we were there: to explore our feelings about various consumer products. We were asked, for example, to show – to feel – emotions about paper towels, which led many of us to realize that we are emotional eunuchs incapable of showing any true feelings towards paper towels.

Feelings of emotional inadequacy can only be tempered by food, good food, so off we headed for some pizza and calzones and debate about other, better, TV shows and movies. 'Twas goodness. And nobody threw up. At least, nobody's mentioned throwing up yet.