Life in Hollywood, below-the-line

Life in Hollywood, below-the-line
Work gloves at the end of the 2006/2007 television season (photo by Richard Blair)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Picks 'o the Week

Back in LA

I spotted this on the way to the post office this morning while carrying a fistful of overdue bills. The hammer and camera... I have no idea who's behind this image, but I like it.


It’s morning, foggy and cold, but the wood stove is full of ashes. Hasn’t been emptied for a week. I fill the bucket with light, fluffy gray ash, then build and light a fire. Once the orange flames have caught, I carry the bucket -– now growing warm from embers buried within -- outside to the hose. As the water penetrates to those glowing embers deep in the ash, small geysers of hissing steam shoot the fine gray powder up and out over everything in a three foot radius.

I’ve learned the hard way to stand back from this bucket of tiny volcanoes, lest I too end up coated in a thin layer of damp ash.

I grab a stick and stir the milky gray soup for a couple of minutes – you really can’t be too careful when it comes to fire -- then carry the now-brimming bucket down a wooded path far away from the house. Where the trees end, a thick blue mist of Forget-Me-Nots hovers over a lush green meadow. Brilliant magenta spears of Foxglove rise up from the dense sea of green, and in the midst of it all stands a doe, not thirty feet away, grazing in the early morning silence. Her head jerks up and freezes, fixing me with an unnervingly steady gaze. Those big ears and liquid black eyes stare with an intensity borne of the need to survive in a world without mercy, where instantaneous reactions can mark the border between life and death.

There are mountain lions in these hills, and this doe knows it.

She also knows I’m not a lion, but isn't sure if I pose any kind of threat, so she stares at me – and I at her -- for what feels like an eternity. A breeze filters through the trees, shaking loose a rain of foggy dew from the branches above. I flinch as one very wet, cold drop hits my neck and slides down my back. The doe doesn’t move a muscle, a perfect statue chiseled out of flesh and bone, utterly focused on me, this sudden stranger who does not belong.

She wins the stare-down. Unable to meet that quietly intense gaze, I laugh softly, then swing the bucket to send the slurry of ash and water out over the forest floor. That’s enough for the doe -- with a single effortless leap she’s gone, a tawny shadow melting into the thick curtain of trees.

I carry the bucket back to the house, no longer aware of the damp morning chill. The fire is going strong now. I pull a chair close and watch the flames consume dry wood, slowly turning it into ash. Outside the fog is beginning to lift, revealing a patch of blue high above.

Somewhere out there, the doe has stopped running.


No longer shackled by the horse-and-buggy of dial-up Internet, I've been catching up on some of those things that help make living in Southern California more tolerable. This week’s The Business on KCRW features a terrific interview with Jimmy Kimmel, describing his recent appearance and apparently much-anticipated performance at the upfronts in New York. I don’t watch much late night TV and am not particularly fond of talk shows, but have heard good things about Kimmel. Having never seen it, I can't say whether his nightly show is worth watching or not, but the interview is definitely worth tuning in.

Robert Lloyd -- one of the LA Time’s most thoughtful TV critics – wrote a really nice commentary on the crazy process of the upfronts, and how that once-quiet event has moved into the spotlight in recent years. It’s a short article that won’t slow you down, but might make you think. Besides, Lloyd is always worth reading.

Another good read comes from the fertile keyboard of Mary McNamara, the LA Time's other good television critic, in a wry multi-dimensional analysis of the End of Oprah. For me, Mary is another "must-read" TV critic, regardless of the subject matter.

And of course, any compendium of entertaining/informative television critics has to include The Hollywood Reporter's own Tim Goodman, who offers his own perspective on the quasi-departure of television's resident She-God. As usual, Goodman tells it like it is.

Last up is another of KCRW’s offerings, a lively interview with Paul Feig, courtesy of Elvis Mitchell on The Treatment. Feig has some interesting things to say about being in “movie jail,” the process of writing comedies, and the importance of utilizing a solid narrative built on a firm foundation. In other words, do it right, with no quick-and-dirty cheap shots just to get a laugh. I haven’t seen any of Feig’s movies, but his latest (“Bridesmaids”) is being pushed as something of a chick-flick comedy with balls.

If the movie is as good as the interview, it just might be worth watching.

Those are my picks of the week. Check 'em out...


Anonymous said...

I am a fan of Paul Feig from his "Freaks And Geeks" days. Thanks for pointing me in the direction of that interview.

Michael Taylor said...

Chris --

I realize that not every reader will appreciate the same things I do, but I like to spread the word when I stumble across something worthy of attention. Glad to hear this one connected.

Thanks for tuning in.