ABC: Already Been CrossDressed

So, ABC, fine makers of Disney-related entertainments and a wholly-owned subsidiary thereof, is bringing this to your TV screen in January, 2012:

On the one hand, I have fond memories of “Bosom Buddies” with Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari. I always wanted to see Scolari’s “Henry” hook up with Wendy Jo Sperber and of course, the show did have Donna Dixon in, almost always, spandex. (I was 12.) On the other hand, this show looks absolutely wretched.

The two leads look as convincing as women as the Wayans did as “White Chicks.” Maybe, I’m wrong and this fresh take on gender roles and expectations will shed an illuminating light on modern day office and romance politics. Or it could be a rehash of every cross-dressing joke and cliche that Billy Wilder wrote in 1959. As with most shows, I will watch the first few episodes if only to continue proving that I truly do hate myself.

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“You can go. You can go.”

As movements go, the Occupy Wall Street movement was a slow starter. It took almost a month to get some mass media coverage, but since then it has grown large and vocal enough to threaten some powerful people. It’s simply psychology, really; when people are threatened they strike out. Like a cornered, wounded animal.. blindly and viciously. As various police departments respond to peaceful occupiers with greater violence, there has been a remarkable lack of physical response and that in itself is astounding. Beatings and chemical attacks are the first line of defense in the police handbook… the next step is gunfire and that will be a sad moment. I pray that cooler heads prevail somewhere.

I have, as every person who works for a living, deep opinions on the OWS subject but I won’t force them on you here. What I really wanted to note was the response to the vicious pepper-spraying at UC Davis over the weekend. I use the word vicious because chemical deterrent is usually reserved against violent offenders or as a preventative. In this case it was neither. Spraying seated students is abhorrent and actually against the California code of conduct for prisoners. During a prison riot, a guard is forbidden from using chemical weapons against a seated prisoner. So, in UC Davis, convicted criminals > seated students.

(click forward to 6:00. This is about a minute after the seated students were pepper sprayed.)
But all that is beside my point to tell the truth. What really struck me is the 1 minute later response from the stricken students. What would usually become a horrible, violent riot became something more. Look at the police. They’re ready for anything… they are ready for violence and to respond by shooting unarmed college students.. that’s their posture at that moment. But listen to what is being said by the students. “We are giving you a brief moment of peace. You can go. You can go.”

Swiftly the chant is picked up. “You can go.”

And they do.

What could have been a horrible, terrible blot in history became something else. It is a sobering moment and I hope that movements across the world learn from the intelligent, wise choices of the UC Davis students.

In Praise of “Community.”

This afternoon I was, as I am wont to do for some reason, checking out the national ratings for several network television shows. It made me sad that Parks & Recreation (which is certainly the best comedy on TV right now) is tied with one of the worst shows, Whitney. It made me even sadder that Community, probably the second best comedy (arguably, the most inventive/creative) is in 12th place.

Community is a great show with surprisingly adroit and deep satire/parodies of zombie movies, holiday specials, westerns, science-fiction and sit-coms themselves. But that alone doesn’t make a great show. To me, it’s the way the show has handled, not only people of various ethnic backgrounds, but people of different faiths. Race & Religion; two topics most shows don’t even mention much less make a focal point for characters and their interaction. Community does it very well (though they could be a bit more even-handed with the devout Christian; just as baking shouldn’t be the characters sole definition, don’t let religion be a character crutch.) Let’s go back to Race for a second. Here’s a sit-com on a network show that is intermixed like a school in California would be; three WASP-y characters, one Jewish girl, one Pakistani kid, a Chinese lunatic, and two African-americans. And their race isn’t the focus of the show (like, say, it seemed that Outsourced focused on.) Dealing with how their differences don’t, and sometimes do, interfere with their relationships is great fun.

While much has been said of their incredibly well-done paintball episodes (weaving action in with deftly sharpened spoofs of action movies, westerns and Star Wars,) to me their most insightful episode was called “Paradigms of Human Memory” which paid tribute to the hokey sit-com trick of “Remember when…” clip shows by recalling (showing) scenes from episodes that never happened.

It’s a wonderful, very well-done show that NBC has put on hiatus. There may not be another season. Low ratings. This disappoints me so much. It’s there.. it’s all there, but they’re going to let it go away and that’s sad. Recently, I’ve been discussing with some producer-types ideas for shows and events, but in the back of my head I thought, “Really? There’s no way you’re going to me/us do what we REALLY want to do.” It’s a rare thing to see a creator really express what he wants and that’s what show creator Dan Harmon really seems to be doing. His interviews are almost too candid. I feel for the man. I can’t imagine what his next interview will be like.

Oh, and one more thing. In the first season (by the writer’s own admission) the character of Britta was the weakest of the bunch. She was literally the plot device to get the whole thing started, but as the second season wore on and the actor, Gillian Jacobs, has been infusing more of her own personality into the part the character has swiftly become my favorite.

Anyway, good luck, Community. You are one of my favorite shows and in this business that’s something rare. I hope you get a fourth season… I bought the DVD sets which is about the highest compliment I can pay a show nowadays.

The new Blog

I’ve got a few projects that are just waking up now. There’s this new blog thing of course. Just about two years ago I was lucky enough to be a founding blogger with ChicagoNow, an online experiment of the Chicago tribune. It was sold to me as a kind of “hyperlocal Huffington Post.” I enjoyed my conversations and off the cuff tutorials from my editors there. Swiftly, though, the lovely people I was dealing with left ChicagoNow and were replaced with nice enough people, but the personal touch was gone. Especially weird was the hands-off philosophy the editors were taking; in order to keep a distance from something egregious being published online they were not to give us (the bloggers) any instructions or suggestions for content. We never received business cards with the logo on it (though I was told that I could print my own out.. The Tribune just couldn’t officially give me cards since that would be construed as a type of employment.) I was interviewed several times to get my blog and had to submit several writing samples and my resume (vis-a-vis improv) was vetted. Within a year, however, ChicagoNow was a giant hodgepodge of almost random blogs with a nice sprinkling of “celebrity” blogs. The bloggers I met when CN was starting up are great people, many of whom are still writing for the site and that is great. As for me, time for a new blog.

Inspired by Seamus McCarthy (who kept a hilarious journal about his pre-Armando doings “Met up with Peter and Rob. We killed it at the Sluggers cages, man.” and Mick Napiers journals about the creation of a Second City main stage show, I started keeping a blog back in 98. It’s come and gone in various manners and this is it now. Going to try to consolidate my other random blogs into this one was well. Also, look for links to some new podcasts I’m hosting. There will be Nerd’s Landing (nerds talking about stuff) and Pereidolia (which Pages doesn’t recognize as a word, but it’s the human subconscious compulsion/tendency to see patterns in randomness. That podcast will focus on the unique and fascinating people in the improv community. Less of an improv interview, more of a way to talk to people I’m fascinated with and record it.)
In 2012, the cast of the Improvised Movie and I will be branching out into podcast with an Improvised PlayCast.Performed/recorded in front of a live audience, it will be then made available as separate podcasts. I’m very excited about it.

Got a question? Let me know at jasonrchin@gmail.com!

Hello world!

Well, well, well.. yet another blog for Jason Chin. But this is a new phase of the Chin Enterprises… I’ll adding and updating frequently and also adding links to some of the new podcasts I’ll be hosting. So, this is the place for all that stuff. Thanks for stopping by, y’all! More to come!!