Friday, October 10, 2008

In which I alienate all of my relatives forever by working for a Democratic presidential candidate and start the first South Dakota Dark pledge drive


So this summer? Really fell down on the blogging job. Now, there's a long explanation as to why this happened and what's going to come in the future (which I'll write ... someday), but I had really planned on picking everything up again this fall.

You may have noticed that hasn't happened (outside of some excellent posts by Simon and Jon). There's a good reason for this.

You see, I am going to Evansville, Indiana to help Barack Obama get elected. I have a number of reasons I'm going to do this, but they boil down to three main points.

1.) I really think Barack Obama is the best candidate for president we've had in a good, long while. I've supported Republicans AND Democrats for a large assortment of offices, and I've never been happier to vote for someone than I am to vote for Obama. Were I not going to do this, I probably would have gotten an "Unemployed TV Critics for Obama" bumper sticker or something. Obviously, dude's not perfect, and there are a number of points I disagree with him on, but he's smart as all get out, and I get the sense that he actually listens to those who disagree with him.

2.) My various attempts to grab careers I really like (be they in the entertainment industry or the vast media empire) have largely fallen short because I don't have a great sense of salesmanship. Convincing a lot of people to vote for someone seems like a good way to improve that skillset.

3.) I've just always wanted to go to Indiana.

OK, no, not really.

3.) I do genuinely think that the greatest problem my generation (folks born from 1980-1995) faces is that of complacency. It's too easy to sit back in an electronic cocoon (Lord knows I have) and let the world wash by us. I do think choosing Obama will be an important choice for the nation (in a large variety of ways), but I think it's EVEN MORE important that he's mobilized my generation to go out and do things, even if it's just vote. We're the biggest group of kids in the U.S.' history, and now that we're awake, we're going to change things.

Right after we finish this rousing round of Rock Band 2.

If you're worried that SDD is suddenly going to become a political blog, fret not. There have been many times that I've wanted to throw the political switch and rant about a huge variety of things, but people come here to read Simon's thoughts on Gossip Girl and my thoughts on sitcom pilots and so on and so forth. When I get back, there will be no gloating or wailing (depending on the election's outcome), but there WILL be my thoughts on just what's up on The Office (that engagement scene? TOTALLY made me a Pam/Jim fan. Just saying.). This is as close as we're going to get to talking politics.

This post will be at the top of the page for a while to explain just what's going on. To see if there are new posts, go down and scroll. Simon and a few others will be posting their occasional thoughts, so we won't go TOTALLY silent.

Also, if you're anywhere between Indiana and California and want to hang out on my way back, we might be able to make that happen. E-mail me, and we'll discuss dates and such. I promise to talk to you about whatever you want.

So here comes the weird part.

The money you get working on the campaign at this level? It's not good. And driving from California to Indiana and back? Eats up a lot of money.

When I was in training for this job, one of the people who HAD been in this position and later moved on to a salaried job said to me, "If you're worried about money, you should ask family and friends if they can donate a little."

"You don't understand," I said. "I'm from the MIDWEST. We try not to take those free samples they have at the grocery store. We're not used to your California-style handouts!"

She pondered this. "I guess I could see that. I have family in Illinois."

"I have a Web site. I could talk about it there," I said.

"Yeah! Do that!" she said. "People are used to being accosted for money on the Internet!"

And, indeed, thinking of all of the blogs I've tossed a few bucks over the years, I AM used to being accosted by people for money over the Internet. So notice our bright, shiny new Paypal button off to the right? Click on that sucker to toss us a little money. If you want to support Obama, but you're too shy or in, say, the media industry, this is a way to do it. If you really like me, this is a good way to let me know. And if you just wish we'd get back to TV talk, we'll be using all leftover funds (and, believe me, I'm living as conservatively as possible on this job) to keep the AV cables running into the Casa del VanDerWerff, so I can get back on the horse as soon as I get back.

"But what's in it for me?" you ask, and I'm glad you did.

Let me introduce the "South Dakota Dark Pledge Drive," and we can pretend we're rockin' it PBS-style.

For any amount of cash (even a single cent, though with Paypal's fees, I don't recommend donating only a cent), you'll get a personal thank you e-mail from a member of the SDD staff (maybe even me!).

For $10, I'll write a blog post on the television or pop culture-related subject of your choice when I get back, even if I have to go, like, rent the DVDs of According to Jim season one or something.

Hey, did you know that the house from Roseanne is in Evansville? Well, for $25, you'll get a photo of ME standing in front of the HOUSE FROM ROSEANNE! How cool is that?

For $50, our very own Libby Hill, veterinary office worker, psychology student and American Idol recapper extraordinaire, will strike up a personal correspondance with you for as long as you deem fit, via either snail mail or e-mail (e-mail preferred). Need advice? Just want someone to snark with about how bad Heroes is? Libby's your girl.

For $100, I'll be happy to write your Christmas or holiday season letter for you to send out to friends. I know that people hate doing this, and I genuinely enjoy doing it, so I'll be happy to give you a call, find out what you've been up to and submit the letter for your approval (and, yes, we can go through drafts) within 48 hours of our talk. In addition, you'll receive the gifts from every other price point. What a steal!

"But Todd!" you say. "I'm a Republican! How can I be sure my donation will go to helping improve SDD and not to helping you elect a Democrat?!"

Well, since Paypal mushes up all of the money in the bank account, it's impossible to promise you this, but I WILL promise you that if you send a note with your donation saying, "I'm a Republican, and I hate what you're doing," you'll get to spend one minute on the phone with me for every dollar you donate after the election, in which I will have to listen to you gloat about McCain's triumph or darkly brood about Obama's triumph. And I won't even talk back! I'll just say, "Uh huh" a lot. What a deal!

The bottom line here is that just from corresponding with some of you over the years, I've found that I have some of the best and most fascinating readers on the 'net. I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't know you were good people and that you'll laugh this off if it's too horribly forward (yes, I know EVERY OTHER BLOG IN EXISTENCE does this, but, again, Midwesterner).

Anyway, I'll see you all in November, when I will almost assuredly have something to say about Mad Men's extraordinary second season, the hamburger episode of How I Met Your Mother and all of the former movie stars I think should be TV stars now. Until then, here's hoping you have a good to great fall.

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

"Let It Be" - Lipstick Jungle, episode 2.3


Quick Review: The first "season" of NBC's Lipstick Jungle (based on a novel by Candace Bushnell) introduced us to three New York women who were best friends, professionally successful, and juggling busy personal lives as well. Bonfire magazine editor Nico (Kim Raver) is married to a stiff academic and begins an affair with a younger photographer's assistant named Kirby. Movie studio exec Wendy (Brooke Shields) is married with a daughter and feeling guilty about not playing enough of a role at home. Fashion designer Victory (Linday Price), who suffers a professional embarrassment in the pilot, ends the season entangled with billionaire Joe Bennett (Andrew McCarthy) on both a business and a personal level. Where does season two find them?

Three episodes in, Lipstick Jungle seems to be setting up its characters for a series of major life resets. Nico's husband dies in the season premiere, leaving a pregnant mistress behind (the grad student who had seemed a little too interested last season). Understandably guilt free, Nico continues her relationship with Kirby and tonight finds struggling with "coming out" as a recent widow dating a younger man. When the two run into NBC celebrity chaser Jill Rappaport (playing herself) on the street, Nico can barely manage to introduce Kirby. She tells him she has things on her mind, and she does. A new boss has taken over the media conglomerate that employs both Nico and Wendy; he replaces Julian Sands' Hector and is played by James Lesure, an NBC repertory player you may remember from Las Vegas or a brief guest arc on Studio 60. Lesure's Griffin is savvy enough to order an apology when Nico's fashion shoot offends an interest group and to leak a fiery in-house email in order to stir up gossipy interest in Bonfire magazine.

Griffin plays it straight with Wendy however; she has forged an insurance form in order to send a new movie into production with an old actor friend. When the actor dies on set Wendy reveals her actions in order to save the actor's family from being sued. Griffin fires her, and Hector (now in some new higher echelon of the media elite) doesn't step in. For now Wendy's film composer husband (Paul Blackthorne, my favorite male on the show) is the breadwinner.

Victory - over Joe/not over Joe? A publicist's (Rosie Perez) efforts to get Victory into the social scene and Joe's squiring of a hot Russian blonde seem to have Victory ready to move on. It helps that she's dating her single dad contractor, and we'll see more of him next week. There's a running gag in the entertainment press and on blogs about how surprising it was in that Lipstick Jungle got renewed. It won;t win any Emmys, but on a pure entertainment level it's a fair bet that it will be around at least a few episodes longer than some of the new competition this fall. Stay tuned for more frivolity in two weeks....

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