Coming up next on "20/20"


Elyse, better known as my significant other, my fiance, my ladyfriend, my non-platonic Leia Organa (I'm Han Solo in this fantasy, obviously), and I have been obsessively watching "20/20" for the past week. I don't know how it started, but it doesn't appear to be stopping, much like a snowball rolling down a hill of shit gathers more shit.

It is a baffling television show, full of the twistiest-blend of melodrama and laugh-out-loud reenactments ever assembled on network television, but it's been on the air for 37 seasons, so there's clearly something to the formula. What that something is, I've yet to discover, but I'm pretty sure it has something to do with the state of Florida.

Two hosts, a man I call Haircut and a lady whose last name is either Vargas or Fargas--I do not know her first name--present each episode with the requisite "we know something you don't know" of bridge trolls. It's pandering, but dammit, I do want to know what they know, and they know it!

The problem, at least in our household, is that I have very unique (I'm told that means 'difficult') standards for which episodes I will watch. Elyse is more than comfortable diving into any episode, happy to uncover the jewels buried within. I, however, will only watch --for reasons unknown, even to myself-- episodes involving intricate criminal puzzles that the police have to piece together. If it's not a reverse "Oceans Eleven," you can count me out.

As you can imagine, this has caused some consternation between myself and the future Mrs. Solo, as the number of episodes that fall into my acceptable category are quite limited, and browsing for them through Hulu's remarkable UI is about as enjoyable as bathing in a tub of rusted thumbtacks. For other reasons unknown, I do not like to hold the remote (too phallic?), which means Elyse has to navigate through Hulu. Poor thing.  Can she view the title of an episode? Sometimes. How about a brief description of the episode without having to click on each episode individually? You wish! What if she does click on an episode and doesn't like the description, does it take her back to the last location she visited? No. How about you start over, asshole.

How far this obsession goes seems directly correlated to our waning patience with Hulu's interface, as well as that secret sauce formula that simultaneously hooks and repels us. Eventually, there will come a day when we pitch "20/20" aside, like the rough-looking prom date she is, and return to our steady diet of animated shows. We're already growing tired of Haircut and V/Fargas' nagging pre-commercial-break teasers, tired of the redundancy of "criminal tries something dumb/ dumb cops can't figure out how criminal did dumb thing and got away with it/ dumb criminal tired of dumb cops inability to solve the case/ dumb criminal lives up to name and tries to get credit for crime/ dumb cops still can't believe dumb criminal did it, eventually arrest dumb criminal anyway/ cut to Haircut for summary," but for another few days at least, we are still entertained.

Isn't that what television is all about?

15 Minutes


I've been a bad boy, and not in the whip and leather chaps kind of way. I've neglected my responsibilities as a writer, which is, of course, to write. Every fucking day, regardless of how I'm feeling. Oh sure, I've been steadily working on my manuscript, and by the end of next week, I should have the first draft finished (followed by a year of editing ... hooray?), but there's a rhythm to writing that can't be overlooked. It should be a daily practice, not a casual hookup. Writing should be tantric.

And so, today I embark on the first steps of a journey, much like Frodo set out into the wheat fields beyond the Shire, backpack cinched tight and metal pot clattering against his hips, as Samwise longingly chased after. I, too, am headed for the unknown, but my journey is one of letters, not fiery mountains and fish-eating monkey-men (one can hope).

When I was in college, I had a screenwriting professor named Sandeep who forced us to write 15 minutes at the start of every class. No talking, no pauses. Just sit down, shut up, and write. It was laborious at first, my notebooks filling with semi-egotistical drivel extracted from my body like an enema, but eventually, it became fluid (also like an enema), transforming the writing process into something enjoyable.

So there you go, that's my 15 minutes for the morning.