Every time I check my Twitter feed or swivel around from my desk to see what’s on CNN, I immediately wish I hadn’t — and I know I’m probably not alone.
These last few weeks have been particularly nasty, with more killings; Roger Ailes getting $40 million for leaving his chief executive creep role; internet trolls attacking comedian Leslie Jones for having the gall to be a black woman with a sense of humor; protests drawing (reasonably or not) police in full riot gear; and insert-Republican-National-Convention-bigotry-threat-or-plagiarized-speech-here. And that’s just in America. I haven’t mentioned France, Turkey or Syria yet.
Oh, and pop culture sculptor Garry Marshall died.
I know some readers will say “Then just get offline. Don’t check CNN. Find a nice rock without WiFi and settle down under it.” But there’s such a thing as being an informed citizen and needing to know that the society in which you live is stampeding toward a cliff. It’s draining, but a responsibility nonetheless.
But that doesn’t mean I have to add to the screaming match already flooding the internet and airwaves. Anyone looking for timely, medium-rare commentary can tune in for the next post. Here’s a list of mini thoughts I much rather write about tonight:
1. I have a mean recipe for mango-ricotta pancakes. Make a stack of Kodiak Cakes Power Cakes using milk and an egg (not just water), a dash of cinnamon and a hint of vanilla extract. Layer pancakes with ricotta and cinnamon whipped together, and top with cubed mango. No syrup necessary. Goes well with coffee, Pellegrino or a mimosa. For best results, pair with a 30-minute 1960s sitcom.
2. To go with the pancakes: Netflix has all of The Dick Van Dyke Show. Admittedly, streaming them aren’t the same as grabbing a homemade VHS tape from the spider-infested bookshelf in the basement and just hoping the episode “It May Look Like a Walnut” is on it, even though there are seven more scattered around the basement from when Mom and Dad recorded the Nick-at-Nite marathon in the early ’90s. I also miss the film promos for Curly Sue and Yoplait ads featuring women in leotards, tights and legwarmers. The Bill Cosby Jell-O pudding ads are delightfully delinquent, however.
I grew up watching those tapes during dinner when Dad was out of town, which means certain quips from the show (“The last living cell in a dead building” and “I have perfect 20-20-20-20 vision”) are as quintessential to my vocabulary as those from later dine-in shows like M*A*S*H*, Fawlty Towers and Seinfeld. But now that I’m a single woman working a full time job and surrounded by mostly married people, I see something more than the cast and writers’ comedic geniuses.
Rose Marie’s Sally Rogers, the only woman on Rob Petrie’s comedy writing team, treats dating like a chore in some episodes and a vacation in others. Sometimes she’s vulnerable to heartbreak, and sometimes she laughs it off and gets others to laugh with her. Her love life is not her entire story, however; she’s also a kickass comedy writer and performer who makes it with “the boys” in the 1960s showbiz world without every episode pointing out her achievement.
Mary Tyler Moore might have gone on to play one of TV’s cornerstone feminists on her own show, but Sally laid the foundation for her, Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ Elaine Benes and Amy Poehler’s Leslie Knope through a single professional female role that showed it was possible for a woman to play the dating field and excel at her job. The more episodes I binge (quicker work when there’s no fast-forwarding through Ren and Stimpy previews), the more I recognize Sally was one of the greatest heroes I could have had when growing up a writer.
4. Writer…yeah, right. My book is nowhere near started, let alone finished. It doesn’t matter how many nights I sit on the roof with a glass of wine or whiskey, I just can’t get it started. One friend said it’s because I put too much expectation into it; another says I think too hard about it. I blame the Dick Van Dyke Show available at my fingertips and a general lack of direction, although since seeing Ghostbusters I’ve mentally cast Kate McKinnon in everything I write. In the future, I see us having a Wes-Anderson-Bill-Murray relationship.
5. Which reminds me: Ghostbusters is excellent. McKinnon and Jones nail it, and Wiig and McCarthy are refreshingly different characters than they usually play. Not one joke is made about McCarthy’s weight, and I only counted two jokes aimed at 12-year-old boys (one virgin-shaming, one crotch-blasting). Cameos and references from the original film are masterfully sprinkled throughout to keep diehard fans happy. Bottom line: Ghostbusters was worth resurrecting from the dead.
5. Speaking of resurrecting from the dead…Goth-alt band extraordinaire My Chemical Romance kind of announced a comeback today after they haven’t made a real album since 2011’s Danger Days: Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys. I responded by applying for a Hot Topic credit card, freshening up the pitch letter for the 2012 screenplay I wrote based on Danger Days and ordering black eyeliner in bulk.
MCR and I have had the typical rom-com relationship: I started out hating their guts; then I gave them a chance; and then I fell madly in love just in time for a plot twist to take them away from me. The first time I listened to them was at a friend’s house in eighth grade — she played me the video for “I’m Not OK (I Promise).” Even at 13 I could tell she was going through something, so when she had a depression-related mental breakdown and left the state without saying goodbye to me, her best friend of four years, I channeled my anger at MCR, which I was convinced was part of her problem.
Two years later everyone I knew was raving about The Black Parade, which used the story of a cancer patient to explore lead singer Gerard Way’s trauma of watching the Twin Towers fall. Upon loving it and retroactively hearing their other albums, Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge and I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love, I realized MCR wasn’t what was causing my friend’s mental illness, but rather what was keeping her going during the toughest times. I experienced the same thing in 2011 when Danger Days supported me during one of my toughest college semesters.
Maybe it’s too much to ask for them to provide solace a third time with this planned release in September 2016, when we’ll be at the height of election season (because we’re not there already?). But a woman can hope.
Now excuse me — there’s a Dick van Dyke episode and stack of pancakes waiting.