Today’s Chuckle

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This made me laugh out loud today. Thanks Alex Micu (and Nate Silver, who retweeted this along with 7,719 of his friends).

On a related note, Siri followed me on Twitter today. True. Well, actually Susan Bennett, the pipes behind the app. I wonder if she can tell me how to make Siri at all useful?

All My Children Gets the Axe Again

It’s not every television series that can boast (?) of being cancelled more than once, but that’s the case with the once-perennial fixture of early afternoon viewing, All My Children. While there hasn’t been “official” official word from the show’s producers Prospect Park (at least publicly as of this writing), tweets from star Debbi Morgan (Angie Hubbard) expressing thanks to fans have been widely circulated and quoted by generally reliable sources such as Michael Fairman On Air On Soaps and retweeted by Cady McClain (Dixie Martin).

(Update: Cady McClain [always a class act, BTW] confirms via Michael Fairman.)

The cast of the "new" All My Children included many familiar faces, including original cast member Ray MacDonnell and longtime co-stars Cady McClain, Jill Larson, David Canary, Julia Barr and others. Image: Ferencomm/The Online Network.

The cast of the “new” All My Children included many familiar faces, including original cast member Ray MacDonnell and longtime co-stars Cady McClain, Jill Larson, David Canary, Julia Barr and others. Image: Ferencomm/The Online Network.

There’s going to be a lot of snarky fan reaction on the Innerwebs in the coming days and weeks along the lines of:

  • I knew it wouldn’t last.
  • Why couldn’t it have been every day?
  • I didn’t want to watch on Hulu.
  • I couldn’t figure out how to get it on my computer, so I gave up.
  • They didn’t have Erica Kane.

And here’s what I have to say about that, quoting that wonderful singer-songwriter Phoebe Kreutzboo frickin’ hoo.

Honest to God. I’m just happy to see someone try to do something differently. I was appreciative of the opportunity, as a viewer, to meet these characters on this new canvas for a while. To have produced 43 episodes in this new format is not a loss, it’s a win. Producers are finding more and more ways to interact with audiences through the Web than they ever have before:

  • Cady McClain made a cool short movie;
  • Freddie Smith, Shawn Christian (DOOL) and company are making a web series;
  • Indie phenom Adam Goldman is producing his second brilliant web series;
  • Broadway’s Andrew Keenan-Bolger and Kate Wetherhead produce, script and star in a smart web comedy
  • Kit Williamson and Van Hansis (ATWT) starred in Williamson’s exceptional web program….

I could go on and on. But to the naysayers, just remember, small, closed minds have never discovered new worlds, written great novels, played great music, developed cures for disease or launched the next life-changing app. They laughed at Edison, too, you know.

Pine Valley
It was terrific to see folks like Cady McClain and Debbie Morgan and Darnell Williams and Jill Larson in old familiar roles — even the never-count-him-amongst-the-dead Matthew Cowles — but it was even better to watch some terrific new talent like Eric Nelsen and Denise Tontz and Rob Scott Wilson emerge and breath new life into characters whose names, but not much else, were familiar to longtime viewers.

So, again, we write the elegy — and eulogy — for Pine Valley, but we move on, figuring out what’s next and where we’ll be tomorrow and what we’ll tune into then. Something new. And different. The world still turns. Well, as it were.


Recent Ramblings on All My Children:

Pine Valley Is Open For Business Again

Pine Valley(4.29.13) — Today is Welcome Back to Pine Valley Day. (Or if your preference is just down the road, it’s Welcome Back to Llanview Day.) It’s the day that the Internet reboot of All My Children and One Life to Live begins.

It took me awhile, but I pinpointed my first viewing of AMC to the spring of 1982. I was a senior in high school and I had been, since before I even knew any better, a viewer of CBS soap operas — As The World Turns and Guiding Light, specifically. I couldn’t help it. That’s what my mother and my aunt and my grandmother watched. I couldn’t go anywhere, it seemed, during my childhood without having a CBS soap playing in the background.

That spring, a friend of mine called me on some holiday from school and demanded I turn on All My Children. (There was a lot of watching television while on the telephone in those days; just go with it.) She said that I had to watch this one crazy character because it reminded her of her mother. The actress was Dorothy Lyman, the role was Opal Gardner, and I thought it was hilarious. (And yes, Opal was a lot like her mother, as scary as that may be to contemplate.)

If Opal, Glamorama and all, got me to open the door, the rich, multi-generational tapestry of characters in Pine Valley invited me to the party and demanded that I pull up a chair.

The cast of the "new" All My Children includes many familiar faces, including original cast member Ray MacDonnell and longtime co-stars Cady McClain, Jill Larson, David Canary, Julia Barr and others. Image: Ferencomm/The Online Network.

The cast of the “new” All My Children includes many familiar faces, including original AMC cast member Ray MacDonnell and longtime co-stars Cady McClain, Jill Larson, David Canary, Julia Barr and others. Image: Ferencomm/The Online Network.

One of the creepiest characters in TV history, Billy Clyde Tuggle, assayed brilliantly by Matthew Cowles.

Creepy Billy Clyde Tuggle, assayed brilliantly by Matthew Cowles.

Watching AMC in those days was not just about watching the hot youngsters —Jenny and Greg and Angie and Jesse and Tad and Liza — it was also about watching Benny Sago spar with “The Duchess,” the one and only Phoebe Tyler, it was about the Charles/Mona/Phoebe triangle, it was about Langley and Phoebe and Myrtle and Opal, it was about hooker-with-a-heart-o’gold Donna Beck and Chuck Tyler, it was about Erica Kane and Tom Cudahy, Brooke English and Tom Cudahy, Palmer Cortlandt before Adam Chandler came to town, Nina and Cliff, Ellen and Mark, Joe and Ruth and Grandma Kate Martin, the best soap opera villain ever, Billy Clyde Tuggle. And “Bonkers.”

Great memories of stories well-told, but they are the stuff of television lore. They are the stuff of history as much as this iconic show opening:

When ABC announced the cancellation of AMC, I started to watch it again. I hadn’t watched much in the decade before the cancellation and I have it on pretty good authority that it was nothing like the Agnes Nixon-penned salad days of the 70s and 80s. The first thing I noticed was that Tad Martin had grey hair! Tad the Cad got old? What the hell? I just couldn’t get over that. I mentioned it to a friend and fellow viewer. He suggested that I should look in the mirror. Oh. According to the AMC bible, Tad and I are the same age. Dammit.

MEKnight14tad03Still, I can mourn my lost youth, I suppose, but, then again, I don’t actually want to see the same things I saw in 1983. I don’t want to watch the same stories again and again. I want to be excited about new stories and new ideas. Isn’t that really the point?

(And the other point is that Michael E. Knight and I both aged gracefully and we still look fabulous, grey hair and all!)

Anyhow, today is a new day in Pine Valley. Like Brigadoon, it’s risen again and is ready to let us in. Maybe some of your old favorites won’t be there. Maybe you’ll be looking for The Goalpost or the Valley Inn or the Glamorama. Maybe they won’t be there either. But just like in1970 at the first beginning, Joe Martin will be there (God bless Ray MacDonnell!!).

Dixie Cooney will be there. And Opal Cortlandt. And Jesse and Angie Hubbard. And Brooke English and Adam Chandler. And a whole lot of young people that you don’t know yet. And that shouldn’t scare you away. That should excite you. It’s a new day. In the world and in Pine Valley.

Oft-repeated through the years — and for awhile seen in the opening credits, I believe — is the poem from Agnes Nixon’s AMC bible:

The Great and the Least,
The Rich and the Poor,
The Weak and the Strong,
In Sickness and in Health,
In Joy and Sorry,
In Tragedy and Triumph,
You are All My Children.

Nixon’s All My Children has always been about just those things. Today, they begin telling new stories in a new medium with both familiar and new faces just like always. I have a feeling this day may mark the beginning of a new day of serialized storytelling in this country. That hope — that we can again tune in tomorrow — or at four a.m. or watch from our phone on the train on the way home from the office — makes this a very good day indeed.

The incomparable Ruth Warrick.

The incomparable Ruth Warrick.

P.S. — I spent many years of my working life in the theatre. I don’t get star struck. I have met and worked with many famous personages, but my autograph collection is very, very small. The only person from a daytime drama I have ever deliberately sought out to meet and to sign an autograph was the late Ruth Warrick. I thought she was an absolutely brilliant actress and there have been very, very few characterizations ever that rose to the rarified level of Phoebe English Tyler Wallingford.

Would that the ‘Duchess’ could see Pine Valley reborn. I’m certain that she and the rest of the Daughters of Fine Lineage would be pleased!

Watch Now!

Watch This, Please – ‘Dark Side of the Subjunctive’

Grammar, Identity and the Dark Side of the Subjunctive
This is a great TEDx Talk from my friend Phuc Tran. He’s a wonderful, funny, insightful man, telling a deeply personal story in a way that is universal in scope and appeal. He’s so incredibly intelligent that he nearly vibrates with it. I sometimes wonder if his students are not just in awe of him.

He touches on something very important here. He talks about being different, wishing he were like others, wishing for normalcy, whatever the hell that is. Often, these days, I’ve been so sensitive to putting those thoughts in context of gay teens, that it was a bit jarring for me — definitely not a teen — to hear Phuc speak of these feelings.

I just couldn’t imagine it for a moment. I had a very, very adult reaction — bewilderment for a moment, really — and thought, “Why on earth would someone not simply adore this man?” More to the point — how could he not know how important his life was?

And then I had to filter it through a teenaged prism. Yeah. Being different sucks. It shouldn’t; but it does, sometimes.  I forgot for a second that straight people go through these tortures, too. Sometimes self-inflicted, sometimes not.

Anyhow, watch. And share.

The Outs – Very In

The Outs.

I don’t know if you’re familiar with this web series, but if you haven’t seen it, I do urge you to give it a look.

Tommy Heleringer as Scruffy and Hunter Canning as Jack, two of the adorable stars of the web series The Outs.

The Outs is the brainchild of Adam Goldman who wrote the six-episode series with Sasha Winters. Both of them act in it as well. The show features nuanced acting, creative camera work, and something that you find too little of — especially in made-for-the-Web-stuff — excellent lighting. (I know, I know. That’s always the dead giveaway in theatre reviews — talk about the lighting instead of giving a bad review.)

But I’m telling ya, it’s lit great and it highlights these performers.

The writing is smart, edgy sometimes, gritty, unflinching, real. These characters speak as real people speak. So refreshing to see.

I love the web series Husbands, too, but for entirely different reasons. Husbands is the parfait of a sitcom I wish was on television in prime time. The Brooklyn-centric The Outs is the great indie project that only you and a few savvy friends have found and it makes you feel good for having some knowledge that the rest of the hoi polloi don’t deserve to care about.

Well, watch The Outs. And tell somebody smart to watch it. These talented folks deserve our support.

How Conservative Media Lost to the MSM and Failed the Rank and File

Before rank-and-file conservatives ask, “What went wrong?”, they should ask themselves a question every bit as important: “Why were we the last to realize that things were going wrong for us?”

via How Conservative Media Lost to the MSM and Failed the Rank and File – Conor Friedersdorf – The Atlantic.

U.S. President Barack Obama walks onstage with daughter Sasha (2R), First lady Michelle Obama (2L) and daughter Malia (L) before giving his election night victory speech in Chicago, November 7, 2012. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

This is a great piece in The Atlantic. Worth spending a few minutes thinking about.