Archive for December 2009

Sitcom Fan Fiction: CLARISSA EXPLAINS IT ALL (Part Two)

12/31/2009


Previously on ‘Clarissa Explains It All’ (or click here to read PART ONE)

We see Clarissa (Melissa Joan Hart)’s Mom (Elizabeth Hess) and Dad (Joe ‘O’ Connor) fighting, uncontrollably on the floor. We cut to Clarissa asking:

CLARISSA:
Dad? Don’t say that you’re…. you’re not…. Oh God. Are you….. collecting Madame Alexander Dolls again?

The parents fight some more. Eventually it cuts to:

CLARISSA:
What am I supposed to do, Sam?!

SAM:
Well, you could come with me. I’m running away. My Dad…. he found gay porn under my bed. I wasn’t even looking at it…. but I was holding onto it for…. well, oddly enough- your science teacher Mr. Webstone…. apparently, it really bugs his wife. But…. he got really mad and crazy so I’m running away. Wanna come?

CLARISSA:
(Terribly torn like a lady birthing triplets)

I don’t know…..

A microwave comes crashing into the room, as we hear Clarissa’s Mom scream, the microwave lands on the floor, it DINGS, and the door opens to reveal a freshly heated plate of the perfect afternoon snack Bagel Bites, Clarissa grabs her coat and follows Sam to the window.

NEW EPISODE BEGINS HERE!

We return from commercial to an ill lit motel room with two double beds. It’s the kind of motel room someone has undoubtedly been murdered in. The kind of hotel room that is only two doors down from the out of order ice machine. Clarissa (Melissa Joan Hart) is lying on her bed reading a sports magazine with OJ Simpson on the cover. She says to herself:

CLARISSA:
OJ Simpson, we need more American athletes like you.

The audience doesn’t laugh or even notice the irony because it 1993 and a lot of shit hasn’t happened yet. “A Chorus Line” has though.

Sam (Sean ‘O’ Neal) comes into the room, via a ladder and the window just like he does at home.

CLARISSA:
Y’know Sam. You can use the front door here.

Visibly shook up by this idea.

SAM:
(Shaking his head ‘no’ and muttering to himself)

No. No. I don’t think I could.

He snaps out of it.

SAM:
The guy at the front desk swears we’re related.

CLARISSA:
Maybe you are.

SAM:
I doubt it. First of all, he’s black…. second of all, no one on my father’s side of the family has ever worked in customer service….. and third of all, everyone on my Mom’s side died in that movie theater explosion.

CLARISSA:
Touche. How’d the job search go?

SAM:
Not great.

CLARISSA:
As in, you applied for stuff but no one gave you an answer up front- not great…. or….?

SAM:
As in…. nobody wants to hire me. Or you.

CLARISSA:
How do you know?!

SAM:
Because everyone said “I don’t want to hire you. Or your friend.”

CLARISSA:
Crap!

SAM:
I know.

CLARISSA:
One week on our own and we STILL can’t find work.

Clarissa buries her head in her pillow. It’s in a floral pillow case and the audience can’t help but wonder what kind of human fluids are all over it. I could guess but it’d just gross you out.

CLARISSA:
Sam. I’ve only got two bucks left. What are we gonna do?

SAM:
Well, I have four dollars… and this brand new walkmen I got for Christmas!

He produces a new walkmen. Let’s not forget that this is 1993 and such an item would be considered nice and luxurious. Sorta like having an iPod Nano nowadays…. or a wheat allergy.

CLARISSA:
That’s still not going to help us pay this week’s rent. Or eat. Or…. Sam. Should we just go home?

SAM:
NO! Absolutely not. We’ll figure something out.

CLARISSA:
What about that diner across the road. Did you go in there?

SAM:
Of course I went in there. That was one of the first places I went.

CLARISSA:
And….?

SAM:
They said…. they hadn’t hired anyone in twenty years and didn’t plan on it until Miss Sally died. Said she’s such a hard worker that it’d take more than one person to even replace her.

CLARISSA:
Miss Sally? Is that the really sweet old lady waitress that works the counter?

SAM:
Uh huh. She’s been there since 1921 or something crazy. There’s a photo of her and Franklin Roosevelt, and if you look at it the right way it looks like he’s sticking his tongue in her ear.

CLARISSA:
Gross! What’s he really doing?

SAM:
Oh….. he’s actually sticking his tongue in her ear.

CLARISSA:
GROSSSSS! Hey. Wait a second. I have an idea.

SAM:
What is it?

CLARISSA:
This might sound sorta weird…. or I don’t know…. maybe it won’t…. you ARE from Arkansas.

The audience laughs like: “Everybody in the south is fucked up”

CLARISSA:
What if….. now bare with me on this…. what if….. we killed Miss Sally and took her job?! You said it yourself…. they’d have to hire more than one person to replace her!

Sam stares into Clarissa’s eyes with extreme concentration. For a moment or two, we think he might be thinking: Clarissa is nuts or Melissa Joan Hart isn’t going to age well….. while, he might be thinking the latter, he quickly smiles and shouts:

SAM:
Clarissa, I don’t know if anyone’s ever told you this but you REALLY do explain it all!

Even though that doesn’t really make that much sense, the audience laughs because…. HAHA…. thats the name of this show!!!!!!!!! OMG!

CLARISSA:
So. You mean. You wanna do it?

Sam produces an enormous hunting knife. It’s really shocking and jarring to see… especially out of nowhere like this. He holds it up and it catches the light in an almost beautiful, elegant way.

SAM:
Yea. Lets go get jobs.

TO BE CONTINUED

Advertisements

New Year’s Eve

12/31/2009


Today is the last day of 2009. I don’t usually get into this New Years stuff. I especially dislike the usual revelries that take place. Last year I spent New Years Eve in my apartment, alone, listening to Nina Simone. I sat by my window sometime around midnight, I opened it and let in intensely cold air and wind, I closed my eyes, and decided to see if I could let New York tell me it was 2009. Sure enough, at midnight, I heard a sea of cheers, of shouting, of car horns, of citizens calling in the New Year in this global, intense way. I’ll never forget it.

As a kid I used to get very very depressed on New Years. My parents usually hosted a small dinner party for their friends. My mom would cook a brisket and they’d sit down to a nice meal in the dining room, and later force themselves to keep their eyes open well past their bedtimes to midnight. I’d put my food on a TV tray and watch whatever was on TV in the den, later in the evening…. each year…. I can remember locking myself in my room…. and feeling a gust of sadness. I couldn’t understand how we’d celebrate a year going by, the ending, peace out, see ya later…. then that terrible song they play at midnight, Auld Lang Syne…. so depressing and “the party is over” in its nature.

I seem to have carried a similar outlook of New Years in my “grown up years”…. though sometimes I’ve managed to drink away this outlook…. this year however, I am genuinely overwhelmed by how much I’ve enjoyed the past year…. and as much as I’d love to hold onto 2009, those moments, that stuff….. I know I can’t….. so we trek onward, right? 2009 was my favorite year yet and who knows what 2010 will be like. It could all go to shit and I could be spending next New Years Eve locked in my childhood bedroom while my parents serve brisket to their dinner guests in the other room. But for now, I’d just like to say thank you to the universe, to my friends, to people who’ve given me cool opportunities this year…. for making 2009 a really cool moment for me. Thanks.

May 2010 bring more cool for everyone.

Hey, it’s really snowing outside my window and it looks like that scene at the beginning of “The Wiz”! Neat.

Sitcom Fan Fiction: CLARISSA EXPLAINS IT ALL

12/30/2009


A scene from: CLARISSA EXPLAINS IT ALL
By Jeffery Self


Clarissa (Melissa Joan Hart) is sitting in her eccentrically decorated room. She is hard at work on a model solar system made entirely of chewed chewing gum. It’s both gross and fascinating to look at. So far she’s only completed Earth and Venus. Her mouth is FULL of chewing gum and she takes a huge wad out and begins sculpting it into Neptune. She addresses the camera, as she always does.

CLARISSA:
(Clearly frustrated and exhausted)

Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever get out of 8th grade. And sometimes I wonder if I do get out of 8th grade, what I’ll do anyway. I mean…. I know women can do pretty much anything they want nowadays but this girl sorta just wants to clean house, read magazines, and make dinner for her husband. Is that such a crime? (Beat) PSYCH! (She throws her head back and laughs) This is a message to all you girls out there who have Dads or brothers or jerk butts at school who tell you you can’t be whatever you want to be…. well, FORGET THEM! YOU CAN!!!!! YOU REALLY CAN!!!!! Sorry. I just get excited. That’s all. I’m really pro women’s rights. You might even say I’m a feminism icon. Right? Right?! (Increasingly on edge) RIGHT?!

The audience nervously laughs at Clarissa or maybe it’s actress Melissa Joan Hart’s intensity. I mean, I guess Clarissa is sort of a feminism icon…. but not like…. Betty Friedan or Norma Rae or anything. We hear the clanking of next door neighbor Sam (Sean ‘O’ Neal)’s ladder at Clarissa’s windowsill. In case you don’t know…. in every episode, Clarissa’s best male friend (it seems she doesn’t have or know any women her own age) comes to visit her in her bedroom by climbing a ladder from outside. It’s pretty weird but everybody goes along with it.

CLARISSA:
(Without looking up from her project)

Hey Sam.

SAM:
Hey Clarissa; What are you doing?

CLARISSA:
You know the science teacher Mr. Webstone?

SAM:
The one that calls everyone on the boy’s swim team Tab Hunter?

CLARISSA:
Uh huh. He made our class project to build a model solar system made from something found around the house. So I chose chewing gum.

SAM:
That’s a lot of gum.

CLARISSA:
I know. I REALLLLLY didn’t think it through. Here. Help me out.

(She hands Sam a stick of gum, he begins to chew it)

CLARISSA:
What are you up to?

SAM:
(Nervous)

Not a lot. Just sorta…. y’know…. doing my Sam thang. Sammy Sam. Sam Sammy. (Sings this line surprisingly well) SAAAAAAAAM.

CLARISSA:
Sam. Is everything okay?

SAM:
Uh. No. Actually. It’s not.

CLARISSA:
What’s wrong?

Suddenly, there is an enormous crash down the hall.

SAM:
What was that?!

Clarissa’s usually earthy cool Mother (Elizabeth Hess) comes into the room completely enraged and disheveled, she’s holding what is left of a floor lamp and is shaking it at someone in the hall.

MOM:
You better stay back. Marshall. I AM WARNING YOU!

Suddenly a large vase comes smashing into Clarissa’s room. It hits the wall and crumbles to pieces.

MOM:
OKAY! NOW YOU’VE DONE IT!!!!!!

Clarissa’s Mom grabs Clarissa’s TV, she picks it up surprisingly easily…. she hurls it into the hall. We hear it someone and then we hear someone fall down a flight of stairs.

MOM:
LONG LIVE THE GODDAMN QUEEEEEEEEN!

Clarissa’s Mom hikes her dress up and spanks herself on the ass repeatedly. Sam and Clarissa stare on completely freaked out. Rightfully so, by the way… oh…. I forgot to mention…. Clarissa’s Mom isn’t wearing underwear so that adds to the weird factor.

CLARISSA:
Mom?! WHAT IS GOING ON?!

MOM:
(Returning to her earthy cool self)

Oh. Hi honey. Your father and I are having a little argument.

A chair comes flying into the room at Clarissa’s Mom. Clarissa shouts:

CLARISSA:
LOOK OUT!

But it’s too late. The chair hits Clarissa’s Mom and she falls to the ground. Just then Clarissa’s Dad (Joe ‘O’ Connor) runs in just as dishelved and crazy as the Mom, if not more.

DAD:
ADIOS CONNIE THE CUNT!

CLARISSA:
DAD!

DAD:
Sorry. Honey. Your Mother and I-

Clarissa’s Mom bites Dad on the leg. He collapes to the ground in pain.

DAD:
JESUS CHRIST!

MOM:
That’ll teach you to bring that stuff into my house again!

CLARISSA:
What’s going on? What stuff?

MOM:
Tell her Marshall!

DAD:
Janet I don’t think this is the time or-

Clarissa’s Mom steps on Dad’s fingers. He winces in horrible pain. I’ve never had my fingers stepped on but I imagine its a terrible feeling. I’ve done some other weird shit that hurts though…. and I will again.

DAD:
OW! Okay. Okay. Your Mom is a bit angry with me because I’ve recently started…. well I’ve fallen back on an old habit…. something we’ve all worked through…. as a family and I thought I’d left behind me…. at the clinic but….. I guess I’m as strong…. as I thought as I was.

CLARISSA:
Dad? Don’t say that you’re…. you’re not…. Oh God. Are you….. collecting Madame Alexander Dolls again?

Dad, like an ashamed child wells up with tears and shakes his head: Yes. He then begins to weep.

MOM:
(Enraged again, this woman is BAT-tay)

How fucking dare you bring this back to our family. Just when we were ready to cope again and move on…. move on to a better life… you promised me that Marshall, you promised each and every ONE OF US THAT!!!!!!! HOW DARE YOU HOW FUC-

She’s begun kicking him with her Wonderfully Comfortable, Affordable, and Practical Birkenstock
(They’re a sponsor on this blog. Not really. But wouldn’t that be cool?) Sam pulls her off of him.

CLARISSA:
Guys! STOP IT! You’re acting like children. I thought we decided that if this EVER happened again we would go to counseling immediately. We wouldn’t let it take over our lives like last time. You both promised ME that. Now, you’re the parents here and I’m a fourteen year old girl, and fourteen year old girls need parents. Right, Drew Barrymore?

Drew Barrymore pops out of nowhere.

DREW BARRYMORE:
I’ll say!

She disappears from wherever she came. I picture a hat box.

CLARISSA:
So fight, be mad, whatever but….. lets figure out a way to fix this. As a family. We’ve done it before and we can do it again.

This was a super touching moment, if you couldn’t tell. MJH knows how to deliver shit like this. I’d hardly say it makes a feminism icon. Everyone has calmed down for a moment. It is quiet and after a moment, Clarissa walks over to give her Mom and Dad a hug but in the process she steps on a Madame Alexander “Scarlet ‘O’ Hara” Doll that is in the floor. Her Dad FLIPS OUT.

DAD:
(Crawling over to the doll)

AHHHHHHH! Watch where you’re going! Is she hurt!? IS SHE HURT!?!?

MOM:
(Enraged again)

JESUS CHRIST, MARSHALL! You sick bastard!!!!!!

She grabs him and they begin pushing and hitting each other, rolling out of the room into the hallway. We hear more things breaking and shattering. Clarissa, panicked, looks at Sam.

CLARISSA:
What am I supposed to do, Sam?!

SAM:
Well, you could come with me.

CLARISSA:
Where are you going?

SAM:
Thats what I came to tell you. I’m running away. My Dad…. he found gay porn under my bed. I wasn’t even looking at it…. but I was holding onto it for…. well, oddly enough- your science teacher Mr. Webstone…. apparently, it really bugs his wife. But…. he got really mad and crazy so I’m running away.

CLARISSA:
Running away?!

SAM:
Yea. Wanna come?

CLARISSA:
And just leave my family? Right now?

SAM:
Now or never, Clarissa. I’m getting on the 4 ‘o’ clock bus to Detroit.

CLARISSA:
(Terribly torn like a lady birthing triplets)

I don’t know…..

A microwave comes crashing into the room, as we hear Clarissa’s Mom scream, the microwave lands on the floor, it DINGS, and the door opens to reveal a freshly heated plate of the perfect afternoon snack Bagel Bites, Clarissa grabs her coat and follows Sam to the window. Just before she climbs out she stops and runs back.

CLARISSA:
WAIT!

She grabs the Bagel Bites and follows Sam down the ladder.

TO BE CONTINUED!

Well. I declare!

12/30/2009

FINALLY! Am I right, ladies?!?!

Back in town.

12/29/2009

I’m back in New York. Yay. Home for ten days was extraordinarily nice but I am really glad to be back. I just arrived into my apartment to find a nice little surprise on my bed. Alicia Silverstone.

No. I wish. Not really. Well sorta. I think she’s interesting. Sometimes. Most of the time actually. Eh. Actually, I don’t really care either way- I just wanted a reference there and I happened to be walking by a theater with her picture outside of it on my way home from the airport today and I thought to myself “Hm. Alicia Silverstone is doing a play on Broadway? Thats kinda cool. Wait, she’s done Broadway plays before, right? Yea. So I guess it’s not that weird but still…. kinda neat. Glad she’s working. What Alicia Silverstone movies have I seen besides ‘Clueless’ and ‘Batman and Robin’?

Anyway. On my bed was a nice gift bag from my roommate’s mom filled with various food products made in Buffalo, New York…. where they live. There was some Buffalo sauce (which makes sense) but beyond that were products I had NO idea came from Buffalo, New York. Pop Rocks for one. Did YOU know that? Or Blow Pops? WHO KNEW? RIGHT?!

Today’s flight was okay. My Dad over estimated how much time I’d need at the airport, so we left our house at 7AM. It was still dark out, and I watched the sun rise as we cruised through Rome. Kinda nice. Bittersweet, as always, to leave. Hate goodbyes, hate attempting to wrap my mind around the fact that life carries on in my home without me, weirdness all around. I’m getting better at it though…. the leaving thing. I used to turn my face away from my mom to hide the tears streaming down my face, I’d rarely be able to choke out the actual words of goodbye. Nowadays, I do turn my face in fear of crying but it rarely happens. I still can’t say the word “goodbye” and usually say “See ya later” but baby steps to growing up I guess.

I attempted, throughout my trip home, to be present…. I wrote about it last week…. to be present to all of them, to really SEE this world thats “too beautiful to ever see it” as Emily says in “Our Town” (or something like that)…. and I think I did an okay job. I realized, upon making this a goal, that I SO rarely actually look into the eyes of my mom or anyone in my family. I so rarely take that mental picture with my mind of a moment with them but I think I got some of those images stored up in my brain this time around and that feels good.

I took the bus to the subway leaving the airport…. the voyage ended up taking nearly as long as my flight but its worth not spending the typical $40 cab fare. Plus it gave me a moment or two to attempt to sink back into the flow of things. To go from bus to 7 train to N train to Times Square and walking home. Slow and gradual. New York flies at you. FAST. The minute you arrive. Its hard to remember where you’ve been…. or that you’ve ever been anywhere else before. I walked down 47th street and onto 9th Avenue, reminding myself over and over…. this morning you were in your childhood bed and right now you’re on 9th Avenue in New York City and that is called travel…. my mind still, despite having done this multiple times over the past three and a half years, doesn’t quite know how to process it. It’s trying though and these gradual steps of transportation, the slow and steady ascent from airport into Manhattan…. softened the city blow.

And now, I’m home. In my bedroom. Through the looking glass. At this desk. Which is actually more of a table that someone gave me. I think they bought it at Ikea. I said think because it sounded sorta poetic didn’t I? Yea…. because I know they bought it at Ikea. It says Ikea on it. Literally. On the bottom of the table top. IKEA. Just like that. Duh. And the sirens sound like they did when I left them. And New York is right outside my window just like it was ten days ago and just like it stayed the whole time I was gone. And I’m trying to be right here and trying to maintain where I was yesterday and mix the two, so that both the present and yesterday’s present that I tried really really hard to see and hold onto…. can be one….. and I can be aware for a moment or two…. that I AM here and I WAS there and thats just how things work.

I am SO excited

12/28/2009

Hands down the coolest thing happening on any stage any where.

HERE

It’s all part of it.

12/27/2009


It’s Saturday night here in Rome. 11:30…. 11:38 actually. I napped for a couple hours earlier today because I thought my head was gonna explode and that I was gonna puke. Neither things happened, you’ll be glad to know but I did strip down for a mid afternoon nap. It was nice and needed. I’ve been in this bizarre eternal hangover for like three days. I think its because I’ve been drunk for like…. what? Seven days? No. Eight days? No. Six months?
This week has been especially intense however and culminating on Christmas Eve with my drinking boxed wine (all class) like its was distilled water…. I’ve felt like I might pass out dead since my niece got me up to open presents on Christmas morning. As I rubbed my eyes and thought that if I moved my head, it might fall off or worse, I might have to get up….. I thought…. how terrible that THIS is this child’s uncle she’s waking up on Christmas morning. This Chardonnay soaked weirdo she’s dragging out of bed is…. family.
Then I remembered my own magical Christmas mornings, and my own Chardonnay soaked weirdos running the show and never once did they not manage to pull off a feat of magic. Needless to say however, I’ve been feeling abnormally hungover since then.

The few days immediately following Christmas seem to me, some of the most depressing days of the year. There’s always such an enormous WHAT NOW feeling…. and no one ever seems to have the answer. I’ve eaten enough to last me until next year, I’m hung over from drinking my weight in booze, the presents are open, and everyone is getting a tad bit antsy. There’s a general sense of GET ME OUT OF HERE on most people’s faces…. whether they’re at home, at a store, at a resturant. The ‘Merry Christmas’ banners should be changed to: The party-is-over-mother-fuckers.

On Christmas morning I couldn’t help but be struck with a weird sense of bewilderment. As I looked at this sea of packages from my family, as we ripped through the paper, around the glowing tree, in the early early morning with Willie Nelson singing “Pretty Paper…. Pretty Ribboooooon” in the background….. I thought…. what a strange tradition all of this is. What with the weird ritualistic routines we all follow, the fictional characters, the endless market attached, the insane stress causing everyone to be on their wits end by the end of it all…. it’s strange. Very strange. And I found it all very depressing for a moment…. I felt kinda guilty about it…. and that the whole thing seemed incredibly bleak. I was so happy with all my gifts, with everything but I couldn’t help but notice that for some reason the sadness of it all seemed palpable and I couldn’t ignore it.

I took a deep breath and looked at my adorable niece…. five years old…. and totally bewitched by the magic of it all, having the time of her life, overwhelmed…. and I thought how heart breaking it is that she’ll have to grow up past this, and stand back one day and look at it all…. and perhaps wonder the same things I was wondering myself right then…. in that moment. It all just seemed sorta like a waste. You can’t take it with you (word up Kaufman and Hart)

But. It’s all part of it. Thats what I told myself all day and into the night. It’s all part of it.

Despite all of that, there is a sense of magic still there. No matter how insane I might think they are at times, how frustrating, or intense it all might be… its really nice to be with my family…. to attempt to maintain these traditions we’ve kept up for years and years…. to recognize, without saying it, the ones we’ve lost, the things that have changed, and the things that will no matter what we do, change someday. There’s a great happiness to all of this, and most of the time, one that is far greater than any sort of sadness and or strangeness. Which is what makes it Christmas.

And it’s all part of it.