It’s Not Torture When It’s Fun

It’s no secret that I stopped keeping up with the music scene about the time that hair bands starting losing their hair. I think I’ve bought 2 cd’s in the last decade. Could be longer.  Might also be that one of those was Chinese Democracy, so that might not count at all.  I listened to it once and decided it was best to remember my favorite bands the way they were. When they were still good. So I willfully stepped aside and stuck my nose in the next Harry Potter (or the one before it–who can really tell when you’ve read them all as much as I have). It’s not that I dislike music, I just came to the realization that trying to keep up with writing, reading, paying my bills and watching as many movies as my dollar would allow was as much as I can handle. I’ve taken a beating for this, most notably from a certain NYC bound friend who prides himself on his musical knowledge, book quote tattoos, snazzy vests and pre-show panic attacks. But he did like Zooey Deschanel for a while, no matter how much he denies it, so I’m feeling ok with myself.

Last night, after a riveting mimosa-buzzed performance of female pop icons by the one and only Moss (really, there will be videos in the future–there’s nothing like it), I had to admit–with no fraction of regret–that I never watched any of the videos from Britney, Christina, Mandy Moore, or Jessica Simpson. I apparently had no context to the compelling renderings of these classics that the Moss was pouring heart and soul (and a good dose of nasal pinching) into, so she threatened to make me watch them. And with all good threats by the Moss, it was immediately implemented lest she get busy watching the last season of Will and Grace and forget. She showed me Britney’s Oops, Toxic, and Baby One More Time (Which is obviously about being really cool in high school. I don’t know, you tell me.), and then followed those up with Christina and Genie in a Bottle, that one where she’s all skanky-ho in the boxing ring (whatever that disease of a video is called) and Fighter. I actually liked Fighter, for what that’s worth to you. I don’t even remember what the Mandy Moore song was, but I kept thinking of Saved and wasn’t really paying attention.  Somebody should have told her that she’s about as sexy as Cheerio’s in lime juice, though. Jessica Simpson used to sing, did you know? I saw a video! There was a plane, or something, and she was doing stuff–I don’t know what. She might have even been singing. All I can think of when I see her is one of her many infamous quotes: “I don’t know what it is, but I want it.” What a maroon.

It was after the fourth–or it could have been the fourteenth–apology by the Moss for needing to show me just one more that I realized I wasn’t bothered by it at all. In fact, I was enjoying it. Wait. I wasn’t enjoying it, per se, but I was enjoying how insanely bad they were. I like watching bad videos, movies, and television shows. I get to flex my comedic muscles, while instantly feeling better for myself in the process. I don’t need therapy, I just need more of the Kardashians.

Which leads me to my prevailing point: Torture me with the worst you can show me, I don’t mind. It’s not torture if it’s fun. It’s entertainment. I enjoy it so much, I’m going to make a spectacle of myself in order to make it even more entertaining. The Moss has offered up the first season of Sex and the CityI’m going to pick a day, set aside 12 straight hours and watch them all. I’ll set up a live blog, pipe comments into Facebook and Twitter, let everyone play along, and we’ll see what becomes of me. I’m not sure that my mind is prepared for 12 straight hours of that… can I really call it a show? Four weathered hags and their quest for sex, relationships and, I don’t know, luggage? I’ve never watched an episode, so I really don’t know what it’s about, but I will admit to having seen the first attempt at a movie. Like I said… I like to watch bad movies.

Anyway, if it goes well–whether anyone is paying attention or not–I’ll open it up to the public. You can pick something, I’ll watch it, blog about it, and probably lose my mind over it. I might even become religious to avoid remembering it. I don’t know. It could be fun for everyone. As soon as the Sex and the City marathon is in place, I’ll post about the specifics. I don’t mind doing this for my own entertainment, but it’ll be more fun if people are checking in on me. I’ll need it. That, and pizza.

For the moment, however, I have a song stuck in my head. More than that, a video that makes no damn sense at all. I think, based on Britney’s costume, that it’s sponsored by Trojan. At the very least they hopefully handed out condoms on the set, just in case. If there is a “script” it was written by a very lonely young man living in his mother’s basement, in between shots of Mountain Dew and down time from Halo. Mars? Really? Wait. Now where is she? AND WHY THEY HELL IS THAT GUY BEING HELD UP BY A CHAIN? Then he gives her the Heart of the Ocean, I guess. What an idiot. He makes Taylor Lautner look positively Ivy League. Anyway…

Everyone give your nose a good pinch and say it with me. Ooh baby baby!

Jonny B. Goobe


Dear Jonathan Franzen,

I couldn’t help but notice that you recently released a book.  I believe it’s called, Freebird, or something like that.  I haven’t read your book, although I did see a review of it on the wall of a toilet stall recently.

“Jonathan Franzen’s new book gave me the runs,” it said.

I found this to be reason enough–had I not already had a few–to steer clear of your recently released paperweight, as I’m not terribly fond of diarrhea, and don’t much like public restrooms.  But I did see that you managed to snag a vote of approval from the one, and only, Oprah, who informed her legion of minions that your work was qualified enough to stamp her corporate logo on the jacket of your book.  Which is interesting to me, as your previous book, which I believe was called, The Correcthings, was also selected by The Duchess of Daytime Television, like, two decades ago, or whenever it was you wrote it.  And yet, at that time, you were quoted thusly:

“I feel like I’m solidly in the high-art literary tradition,” and, “I see this book as my creation and I don’t want that logo of corporate ownership on it.”

Which is amusing, as well, seeing as how you weren’t at all bothered by the corporate logo of your publisher on the spine.  But allow me to steer clear of the past, and instead, focus on the very now now.  It appears that some people really don’t like Freebird quite as much they should, given the nature of your inclusion in Time as a, “Great American Novelist.”

Lookit, see, just like I said.

Lev Grossman really seems to like you, by the way.  Might want to watch the back door.  Just sayin’.

Anyway, The Atlantic sure didn’t like your book.  In fact, I think they felt that their review might have been tastier alone than your book covered in cheese.  And, in my world, that’s saying a lot.  But since you are unlikely to read the review, please allow me to highlight a few interesting takes:

“One opens a new novel and is promptly introduced to some dull minor characters. Tiring of them, one skims ahead to meet the leads, only to realize: those minor characters are the leads.”


“The language a writer uses to create a world is that world, and Franzen’s strenuously contemporary and therefore juvenile language is a world in which nothing important can happen.”


“Perhaps he can learn a lesson from Freedom: write a long book about mediocrities, and in their language to boot, and they will drag you down to their level.”

The Atlantic Wire has opinions too, and not all of them are very good.  in fact, they seem to have pooled some other opinions that say very much the same, even going so far to state, “Some critics think the book is trying so hard to be relevant and modern that it winds up failing at some of the crucial tasks of a novel.”  That doesn’t sound very good.  In fact, it makes you sound like a teenage kid, pining for attention, but managing only to demonstrate your futile state of immaturity.

And there’s this rumor that you killed Oprah’s dog.  Shame on you.  Santa probably won’t be visiting you this year, so you know.

So, what now Johnny?  Are we to wait another eight years for a door stop of mediocrity.  So far, you’ve only managed to make me want to read Stephen King again–and not the King of the past, before he retired in order to go all aliens, and repetitive angry cars, but the lean, writing machine that produced orgasmic horror back in the 80’s–or perhaps watch repeats of Gossip Girl, so, yeah, that’s not really saying much buddy.

I lied earlier.  I read the first page of your new book.  I didn’t like your use of, ‘The,” in the opening sentence, and promptly put it aside.  Then you went and re-let Oprah pick your book, and now it has that corporate logo sticker thing on it, that seems to flaunt your hypocrisy like a pink balloon in a blanket of other-worldly blue skies.  I mean, I guess I’m just confused, you know?  Why was it such a bad thing for The Correcthings, but for Freebird?  Did you have a change of heart?  You recently stated that your quotes were misappropriated, or the like.  I once told a gathered crowd at a Christopher Moore signing that, “I wasn’t going to waste any more of my time,” introducing him.  But I didn’t mean that.  I misstated what I meant.  Is that what you did?  Did you mean to say, “Golly, I’m really elated that she selected me, though I must admit that I am also surprised, given the previous selections?”  Because I would understand that.

Surely that’s what you meant.

Stevie says that's not what you meant.

Well, I guess that’s all I have to say.  I still won’t read your book.  Not until you stop killing dogs, misusing the word, ‘the,’ and denying that you jumped the commercial bandwagon to fame.  But we both know that won’t happen, so let’s just agree that you aren’t as good as you, or Lev Grossman, think you are, and we’ll move on, yes?


In the meantime, I thought you should see what true writing looks like, so here’s a video for the new season of Gossip Girl:

That’s Leighton Meester.  She’s as bad at being a musician as you are at being a writer, but she’s much prettier.  She wins.

Yours insincerely,

The Esteemed Irreplaceable Fantastic Me, Zachary Steele

James Franco is an author writer with mad ninja skills

I’d like to begin this with a sincere attempt at not apologizing if this sticks a very unfortunate song in your head, but this is my blog, my therapy, and I need to paste it somewhere other than in my head.  So, there.  Um, yeah.

But since this may not be enough, I drop this into the abyss of my blog as well:

There.  All better.

James Franco wrote a book.  No, really.  I might be imaginative, but even I have my limits.  It’s a collection of stories, which I imagine amuse him greatly, and probably only encourage him to think even more highly of himself.  No disrespect to Sir James, he was a passable Goblin Jr.–although the self-destructive, delusional, running weed joke that was Pineapple Express stole a bit of my soul before I sent it back to Netflix with a note that said, “No!  Bad Netflix!”–but I can’t help imagining him writing this book, pausing at each sentence with that damned half-smirk of his to admire how awesomely awesome  it was.

I am so freakin' awesome...

Yeah. That one.

Apparently, according the guru of all things hip and importantly pivotal to a world unprepared to acknowledge his vast and deeply essential understanding of hipness, Russ Marshalek, there is a sentence that reads: “When would things begin mattering? he wondered. Now, now, now.”

Wow. I am sufficiently moved now.  And yet, strangely compelled, in that Apocalypse South, kind of way to read this.  I may print out the picture above and use it as a bookmark just to be reminded of how awesome Sir James thinks he is, so that I fully appreciate it for myself.  Or I might just burn the photo, along with a collection of the movies he’s been in, so that I have enough light to tear out each page as I read it, smother it in mayonnaise, and eat it.

It’s a toss-up.