Monday, October 15, 2007

Here's The Deal

From now until the end of November, this space may get a bit erratic, posting-wise. There may be days without original musings or tortured screeds. There'll definitely be visual padding up the fazool -- cultural, comedic, even political tidbits for your approval and amusement. In short, this space will not go dark while I finish my manuscript.

It should go dark. It might in the later stages of sleepless rewrites and feverish editing. I won't know until I get there. But truth be told, I like this access, even though it drives me insane most weeks. I'm amazed and humbled by the increasingly large readership I've drawn. Simply put, I don't want to fuck with those numbers, nor do I want to lose the many passionate, intelligent correspondents and online friends who enjoy what I do and regularly interact with me. But overall, I want a place to vent, to blow off some creative steam after a day's or late night's writing. So, for now, we'll keep this toy train chug-chug-chugging.

As always, my blogroll provides for all of your political, cultural and polemical needs. You know the regulars, but now I'd like to introduce some newer additions, a couple of whom have already made their b'roll debuts, Toby Hayse and Rob Payne. If you haven't checked them out, please do. Toby's a bit more playful than Rob, a musician who's developing into a fine essayist, but both are worth reading. Also, old friend Ian Garrick Mason has started a blog of his own, Archipelagoes, for your high-end cultural needs.

Today's additions include Blue Girl In A Red State, whom I met at the newcritics party in New York last summer. Blue Girl's been very nice to me at her place, so I wish to return the gesture and add her here. Then there's Who Is IOZ?, a sharp, very funny writer who needles everyone, including many leading libloggers, which spares me the task. Finally, James Wolcott, who writes for some obscure magazine, I forget the name, but Jim is an up-and-coming essayist and author, and I think we're gonna hear a lot from this kid in the future.

Today's visual filler comes from the strange, dark period of "SNL," circa 1980-81. This was when Jean Doumanian took over the show from Lorne Michaels, and in 12 head-scratching installments, nearly put the franchise out of business. That took some doing, considering the impact "SNL" had then made. Some young soul has that entire season on tape, and is posting a bunch of Doumanian-era sketches at YouTube. I don't know how long they'll stay up, given NBC's touchiness about copyright issues, but these may fly under the Peacock's radar. Then again, this season of "SNL" is usually air-brushed from most retrospectives, so these bits may silently disappear after all.

"Jean Doumanian? Never heard of her. The show went straight from Gilda Radner and Bill Murray to Martin Short and Billy Crystal. Everyone knows that."

Here are two sketches (bootleg quality) from the Malcolm McDowell show, November 22, 1980.

The first, "Leather Weather," features Denny Dillon and Charles Rocket, and it represents the level of humor that year. It's not a bad premise, and I like the image of Rocket chained to a map. But Dillon's Mae West impression is all wrong -- she needed to be really nasty and abusive, and the punishment she metes out is comically tame. If you're gonna do dominatrix humor, get into it. Make it hurt. I once dated a professional dominatrix, so believe me when I tell you, Dillon's portrayal is pure vanilla.

Next is considered perhaps the worst sketch in "SNL's" history. That might be up for debate, but I remember "Jack the Stripper" being really bad when it originally aired, and watching it again for the first time in 27 years hasn't changed my perception. This is one truly mind-boggling sketch, worthy of Leonard Pinth-Garnell. Gilbert Gottfried's old English woman is a very cheap imitation of Monty Python's Pepperpots. And Joe Piscopo's . . . um, whatever it is, didn't help save the bit. Malcolm McDowell makes a valiant effort to pull this thing out of the mud, but he was overwhelmed and outnumbered. See if you can make it all the way through.