Sunday, May 30, 2004


Yesterday was a perfect Couch Potato Day... no, wait, is there anything less animated than a potato? Potatoes grow, at least... how about a trilobyte, which does nothing but emit faint prehistoric traces of radioactivity? And if I was sitting in my Grandmother's Art-Linkletter-approved pick-me-up adjust-o-matic chair instead of on a couch? Okay, so it was my Recliner Fossil Day.

Anyway, I spent about twelve solid hours in front of the television yesterday, moving only to eat and pee. And during that twelve hours I experienced (among other gems) an entire decade of VH1's I Love the 80s and I Love the 80s Strikes Back. It was terribly entertaining, watching the whole decade go by again (though really, once was enough). In the middle of this marathon, VH1 interrupted the 80s only once, to air it's stupidest nostalgia show, The Best Week Ever, in which the same talking heads one knows and loves from I Love the 70s and I Love the 80s (not to mention the upcoming and inevitable I Love the 90s series) debate and comment on last week's "newsworthy" events.

But it is the talking-head commentary I enjoy on these shows, not the nostalgia. I am not much given to nostalgia as a rule; I am generally amused to be reminded of some of the silly trends and favorite songs of a past era, but I don't get any special thrill out of it. The celebrities and comedians commenting on the nostaligia, however, I love.

Well, not all of them... seeing a bunch of baby pop-stars like Pink and the youngest (and damn-prettiest) Hanson boy, who were wearing Huggies and learning to tie their shoes during most of the 80s, chatting on about "Oh, I remember L.A. Gear," and "Oh, I remember Rainbow Brite," and "Oh, I remember Chia Pets," was actually kind of irritating. But the rest of the people, those who are in my age-group, or who were actually celebrities during the 80s, these were rather entertaining.

And there is no shortage of such shows, particularly on VH1 and E!... I find, however, that I prefer the nostalgia type to the "countdown" type. For example, Caroline and I once watched all five hours of VH1's 100 Hottest Hotties, and while we of course enjoyed the commentary and the film clips, and of course agreed with each other, we found ourselves disagreeing with the producers' ranking of hotness... I'm sorry, but Orlando Bloom (ranked #76!) is waaaaaaaay hotter than 50Cent (#8, if you can believe it)!

I mean, if you like bullet-scarred torsos and silver teeth and mean expressions and prison tattoos... for every kink there is a community. But can there really be people so woefully benighted as to think that this terrifying plug-ugly is hotter than the incredibly beautiful Orlando Bloom, with his classic bone-structure and deadly shoulders and perfect skin and fabulous hair and hot brown eyes? I don't get it. AAUUGGHH!!

I beg your pardon, I get a little worked up sometimes.

So obviously the unranked shows are preferable, as they are less controversial to one's sensibilities... but how great a job is that, being a talking head on one of these shows? As I sit there watching, I wonder what I would find to say about the various fads and phenomena of three previous decades. What would I wear? And what would be the little title under my name? (Know-it-All? Fashion Goddess? Celebutante? Grand High Muckety-Muck?) A most tantalizing fantasy.

Scene: Miss Marlénè Manners (Irrelevant Nobody) perched elegantly in a director's chair, my legs crossed at the knee as I lean slightly toward the interviewer, sliding a confidential glance at the camera, and therefore the audience, every now and again; wearing something simple, a raw silk blouse the color of tomato bisque with cream pearls and just a hint of shoulder-pads; I lift a perfectly manicured hand, nails painted the same color as the blouse, to smooth back a severe auburn bob and reveal delicate antique girandole earrings. I hold up a pair of those odd little huarache sandals made of some mysterious clear rubber material that were really popular in the mid-80s, and speak: Oh, yes, I remember Jellies! What was that about? "Oh, look, Mom, a pair of surprisingly expensive shoes made out of a nontraditional, uncomfortable, and inappropriately fragile material! I must have four pair!" What were we thinking? Then I titter in a self-deprecating manner, as if I myself had been guilty of wearing Jellies... though in fact they didn't come in my size and I wouldn't have been able to carry them off if they had.

So that's my new dream, to be a talking head on a fauxstalgia show. I wonder what the educational and experiential prerequisites are? Public speaking and a stint of television celebrity two decades ago, or guitar lessons and a one-hit-wonder pop single, perhaps a journalism degree and my own column in The New York Times Entertainment section? I'd better get to work on one of those so I'll be ready for VH1's I Love the [Whatever We End Up Calling This Decade Once It's Over]s, most likely already in production and scheduled for release in the summer of 2010.

Oh, baby, dream your dream.

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