Where Does A Handicapped Man Fit In Donald Trump’s America?

The state of our union feels fragile today.

The five stages of grief are real. And I went through all of them yesterday when it became clear Hillary Clinton had lost her bid for the oval office and Donald Trump would be our 45th president. Mingled with my grief, in its various ebbs and flows, was a question important to me personally.

Where does a handicapped man like me fit in Donald Trump’s America?

I am frightened of what a Trump presidency will mean for me. Will he take my social security away because he doesn’t value the contributions of the segment of the population to which I belong? What I mean by that is this: Does he value us enough to see that entitlement programs like social security–entitlement being the wrong name for it, in my opinion; it truly is a social safety net–exist because they make life easier to live but are nowhere near some kind of financial windfall every month? Will he treat us like second-class citizens? I suppose I’ll have to wait to have my questions answered in full, and that has me beyond worried.

I realize campaigns are full of rhetoric. They’re full of bluster and bombast, both things Mr. Trump does well. But being president is entirely different. If he truly is going to be the president for all Americans, as he claimed in his acceptance speech, that means accepting that not everyone looks like him, walks like him, talks like him, or thinks like him, and being okay with that. I’m not sure, in my heart of hearts, that he can do this.

Just like a gay man or a black woman can’t change the qualities that make them them, nor would they want to, I will always be handicapped, no matter what I do. No matter how many books I write. No matter how many times somebody tells me I’m a brilliant editor. No matter how many people love me. No matter how many times someone says, “You’re normal to me.” I can’t imagine living in a country whose president would mock me with relish. While my disability doesn’t define me, it is a part of me. It contributes to my life-experience.  So when I saw Mr. Trump mocking a New York Times’ reporter this campaign season, it felt to me like a stab to the very heart of who I am as a man. Here’s a man in Trump who was mocking another with my same disability, and the mocker wanted to be–and now will be–the leader of the free world. I was, and remain, disgusted.

When Trump actually won the election, I was distressed. I cried. I’m crying now. I have never voted for a republican presidential candidate, admittedly, but I respect this country and the people in it. I simply want to know I won’t become the new kind of “forgotten man or woman” to whom Trump made reference in his acceptance speech. I want to know that, even though I can’t serve it, my love for this country is just as valuable as the love exhibited by someone who does.

In conclusion, whether you believe in an organized religion or not, and a fair number of people I know don’t, I thought it appropriate to end this post with:

God bless you, and God bless the United States Of America.

 

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Internships And Spring Training Trips

Life has a way of changing, switching things up, and putting you right where you’re supposed to be.

The thing is, it does so with such a measured pace–sometimes that pace can still seem something akin to slow even when we’re living in a world that demands everything happen fast–that we might not even notice some of the changes it brings. Yet others are obvious, maybe even painful.

I’ve always been a writer. Truthfully, when I first begin dating a woman, my writing plus my humor are my secret weapons. I think they admire my forging on through life despite my cerebral palsy and eyesight that might not make Mr. Magoo jealous. But I have yet to find the one person out there who says, “I choose you. Above all others, and in spite of–or maybe partially because of–your struggles and the way in which you handle them, I choose you.”

Have you ever found yourself at a crossroads that you can only define as a crossroads looking back, after the fact?

I found myself at one of these crossroads recently. (It made me think of Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken, until I read a little deeper and realized that poem is not about what most of us think it’s about.) When my recent relationship of two years ended, I spent a while after the initial shock wondering what it had all been for. (Then I wondered, just now, why I felt the need to end a sentence with a preposition? My third-grade teacher is probably turning in her grave.) We had shared so much, this woman and me, yet I had not been enough. My writing, my humor, my sarcasm, the last of these a quality that feels built-in to me but was honed by my loving grandfather (a quality I would not trade for a chance to write a best-selling novel, or a poetry collection that gleams with something critics call brilliance, because doing so would mean having to forfeit the best things in my life; the joy of laughing even when laughing seems impossible and the love of a man who taught me the sentimentality that, certainly in part, anyway, defines me.). Those things, as much as I appreciate them, they had not been enough to keep a relationship I treasured afloat.

My relationship was a sinking ship taking on water before I ever realized I should be unhappy in it.

The contentedness I so rarely feel in matters of the heart that was my companion then was also the thing that blinded me to what was really happening, the way life was changing, switching things up without my knowledge or, more importantly, my approval.

A writer has control. His universe is what he makes it. What he writes it.

A man with cerebral palsy must give up control before he ever knows he lost it. “I’m a go-with-the-flow kinda guy,” I often say. Because that is who I am, but also because I don’t really have a choice.

I love words, and what they can do to people who read them, but I also love the control they give me. “Shape this world,” they say. “Make it what you will. Make it a world with great castles, or one with peasants living in tiny hovels.”

I know how to write. What I didn’t really know–until life let me know it–was how my ability to write could actually teach me about the business of writing.

The business of writing. To a writer, for whom telling stories is the ultimate escape and/or communication tool (Sometimes, a writer’s not saying, “Come with me into a magical land.” Sometimes they’re saying, “If you take the time to learn a little something about my life, it just might teach you about yours.”), thinking of writing as a business is not easy. But a business it is.

For me, loving the business of writing all began with TV. That’s right, that box that used to be square and then flattened out and lost its boxineess. Every May, the networks (whose relevance we can debate, if you’d like, though not today) hold what they call the “Up-fronts.”. They have new shows coming next September, and they want to get their friends the advertisers excited. They couldn’t be higher on their shows then. The network presidents will say things like, “This is the greatest show since Breaking bad.” (If you hear that, by the way, run the other way. Nothing will ever compare to Breaking Bad, and if a network tells you they have “the next Breaking Bad” they are severely over-reaching and should be punished with low ratings.)

Low ratings, of course, lead to cancellations. Shows that networks crowed about–that viewers knew to be crap–removed from eyeshot forever.

Books–and the business of books and writing–work a bit differently, yet there are similarities. An agent loves a story or a project. The agent is essentially a producer, whose job it is to then bring their new love and its author to an editor at a publishing house. (The publisher is the network.) If the publisher can be convinced, the book will see th light of day and the eyes of readers.

But before this can happen, an agent must read many stories to find those that they feel comfortable sharing with their publishing colleagues. And they might use a second reader to help in this endeavor.

That’s part of what I’m now doing as an internship, an opportunity that came to me through my father, an opportunity I never thought I’d have. I love forecasting which new network shows are doomed to fail, and I love even more reading stories and helping to determine their viability. Doing so makes me a better writer, because I can spot the “what-not-to-dos” in writing, and sometimes in my own writing.

This position is new, but I hit the ground running, and I’m pretty proud of what I’ve done so far. There isn’t anything better than feeling productive and appreciated. The agent I’m interning for (for whom I’m interning, my inner-editor is screaming) went on vacation recently, and she asked me if I wanted to take a vacation of my own while she was out. I don’t usually take vacations, but March is a big month, and my dad, my uncle, my second cousin, and I have been planning a trip to Seattle Mariner spring training for months, so while I didn’t take my vacation when she took hers–I kept reading, and I actually read something I love–I would take my vacation a week or so later. Our crew would drive to Arizona to watch baseball, do some casinoing, and revel in In N Out burgerness.

And–Dad and I are both writers, remember?–we’d tell stories on the road, too.

Stories of Papa, the man who gave me my sarcasm. Who showed me that my cerebral palsy only limited me if that’s what I wanted it to do. Who loved my writing–and showed me where I could make it better–before I ever knew people did that for a living. He certainly didn’t. He simply liked to read stories, and he loved and encouraged his grandson.

I was twenty when he passed. A week shy of my twenty-first birthday, actually.

My second cousin knew Papa in the abstract way that really young people know really old people. (My brother once wrote on the white-board in his hospital room, “Papa smells old.” He got a kick outa that.) The wonderful thing about that is that I got to tell my cousin just how much Papa loved him, how overjoyed he was that this new person would share his name, how Papa delighted when he would come over in the morning asking for “Hot Chocate milk”.

And, while on this trip, we made our own new stories. Some of which almost defy explanation unless you were there in the car with us, driving the twenty hours from Arizona all the way to the Oregon border. (Just an observation. Between Vegas and Reno, there is nothing, and I mean NOTHING.)

On this trip–this shared experience–I found in my cousin one of the best friends I kinda never knew I had. I had watched him when he was very young, but now he’s about to graduate high school, he’s a smart guy, and we make each other laugh. And it’s nice to meet someone whose first question isn’t, “Why do you walk like that?” I actually really liked answering his questions. One of them was something along the lines of, What was Papa like? I’ll answer that question any day, any time, because he was the person I wish I could be.

So, in the space of four months, I’ve found something I love to do–that’s reawakened my enjoyment of words and writing–and in the space of a week, I was re-acquainted with family and found a pretty great friend. And it all happened because life has a way of changing, switching things up, and putting you right where you’re supposed to be.

 

 

 

The Networks’ Fall Schedules–What Will Last, And What Will Crash… And Why

My birthday having just passed, this is my favorite time of year (asside from Christmas, maybe). Presents plus knowing what the TV networks will do in the fall and getting to imagine myself as a programmer, too? Yes, please!

In this blog, I will compare and contrast the networks’ (Fox, NBC, CBS, ABC, CW) fall schedules. This blog is strictly about the fall and so does not include any mentions of mid-season shows, because… let’s face it… fall is tough enough to handicap.

Here goes.

SUNDAY

ABC

7:00 America’s Funniest Home Videos

8:00 Once Upon A Time

9:00 OIL (NEW)

10:00 OF KINGS AND PROPHETS (NEW)

CBS

7:00 60 Minutes

8:00 Madam Secretary

9:00 The Good Wife

10:00 CSI Cyber (New Time)

NBC

7:00 Football Night In America

8:00 Sunday Night Football

FOX

7:00 NFL On Fox

7:30 The OT/Bob’s Burger’s

8:00 The Simpsons

8:30 Brooklyn Nine-Nine

9:00 Family Guy

9:30 The Last Man On Earth

(CW does not program Sunday).

Looking at this night of programming, we are pretty much status quo here. NBC will win big Sundays with football. The biggest changes to the night are at ABC, a network that, otherwise, is standing pretty much pat. The introduction of OIL starring Don Johnson at 9 in place of Revenge is an obvious (perhaps too obvious) night-time soap concept. Note that Dallas, as originally conceived, was titled “Oil”.

At 10:00, new show Of Kings And Prophets is attempting to capitalize on the renewed network interest in all things biblical. But don’t expect this one to last beyond mid-season. I hear tell of hokey British accents and that this show might be trying to be the network’s answer to a certain Sunday entry on HBO. But unless George R.R. Martin wrote the bible…. sorry, ABC, I’m not buying.

MONDAY

ABC

8:00 Dancing With The Stars

10:00 Castle

CBS

8:00 The Big Bang Theory

8:30 LIFE IN PIECES (NEW)

(SUPERGIRL (NEW)l will fill the hour as of Nov and may not be any good, if my superhero-loving sources are to be believed.)

9:00 Scorpion

10:00 NCIS: Los Angeles

NBC

8:00 The Voice

10:00 BLINDSPOT (NEW)

FOX

8:00 Gotham

9:00 MINORITY REPORT (NEW)

CW

8:00 CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND (NEW)

9:00 Jane The Virgin

We all know what will happen Mondays this fall. NBC wins with The Voice. No surprise there.  They’ve also got Blindspot to follow The Voice. Blindspot stars Jamie Alexander and sounds a bit Alias-like. It should get sampled out of The Voice, and if it’s any good, it will stick because of the time period.

ABC, as noted above, stands pat with Dancing and the aging (but still viable) Castle.

Because of football occupying Thursday, CBS moves the first few weeks of Big Bang Theory to Monday, leading into Life In Pieces. Which… did you see Parenthood? Yeah, it’s that show, except as a comedy that may… or may not.. be funny. The preview looks like an okay movie, but I’m not sure it’ll work as a series. We’ll see.

Minority Report sounds interesting, but Fox never draws great numbers on Monday. We’ll have to see if the network has faith in this one. Even if it gets a second season, let’s hope it doesn’t suffer the same fate as Kevin Bacon’s The Following. People just gave up.

The CW has an intriguing Monday entry (and its only new show of the fall). Crazy Ex-Girlfriend leads into last year’s darling, ratings-challenged Jane The Virgin. Ex-Girlfriend appears to be a musical of sorts. It’s from the director of 500 Days Of Summer. I hope it works, because it would pair perfectly with Jane.

TUESDAY

(Get ready for some major change, people).

ABC

8:00 THE MUPPETS (NEW

8:30 Fresh Off The Boat

9:00 Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.

10:00 QUANTICO (NEW)

CBS

8:00 NCIS

9:00 NCIS: New Orleans

10:00 LIMITLESS (NEW)

NBC

8:00 The Voice

9:00 HEARTBREAKER (NEW)

10:00 BEST TIME EVER W/ Neil Patrick Harris (NEW)/Chicago Fire (as of Nov)

FOX

8:00 GRANDFATHERED (NEW)

8:30 THE GRINDER (NEW

9:00 SCREAM QUEENS (NEW)

CW

8:00 The Flash

9:00 Izombie

This fall, Tuesday is change. Some of it good, some of it, meh, and some of it, Why the bloody hell…?

Let’s begin with ABC’s revival of Jim Henson’s beloved Muppets. Yes, please and thank you! I am watching this, and you can’t stop me! The trailer looks like that same kind of Muppet-funny that made me guffaw as a kid. Tuesday at 8, you’ve got me, ABC. And I’m interested to see what a second (extended) season of Fresh Off The Boat will do. I like that show, and it fits perfectly with ABC’s family-brand. In different timeslot news, and for fans of Forever, your favorite 10 P.M. show should have stayed. Quantico looks like a formulaic FBI-agent drama similar to every other network drama that isn’t strictly medical or crime these days.

NBC has The Voice, of course. The lead-out looks…. like Grey’s Anatomy, only way lamer. I don’t buy it, and I hope you won’t, either. The preview made me say ewww and throw up in my mouth a little. Which means it will probably last twelve years or something.

At 10, through November, is the new NPH vehicle, a variety show that I will definitely be tuning into. This is listed as a “limited” series”, which is network speak for: “We want to see how it goes, and if we like it, we’ll do a second season next year”. Chicago Fire will step into the time-period after NPH is done.

CBS has Limitless, which is a TV-adaptation of the same-named movie.

At Fox, wow, the whole night is brand-spanking new. 8:00 has John Stamos starring in Full House (or, oops, not Full House). It’s called Grandfathered, and don’t get used to it. Between The Voice and The Muppets and The Flash, this thing is deader than a spider after my dog sees it and decides it needs something to bark at and then chew on.

At 8:30, Rob Lowe and Fred Savage star in The Grinder, which looks promising. Lowe, a sort of dumb-guy TV lawyer, whose show ends after 8 years, decides to go home and work in his family’s actual law firm with his brother (Savage). I’ll give it a watch.

At 9, Scream Queens is Ryan Murphy’s horror/comedy anthology. Again, I’ll give it a watch. Not much else to say here. Could be good. Could be a pile.

WEDNESDAY

ABC

8:00 The Middle

8:30 The Goldbergs

9:00 Modern Family

9:30 Black-ish

CBS

8:00 Survivor

9:00 Criminal Minds

10:00 CODE BLACK (NEW)

NBC

8:00 The Mysteries Of Laura

9:00 Law And Order: SVU

10:00 Chicago P.D.

FOX

8:00 ROSEWOOD (NEW)

9:00 Empire

CW

8:00 Arrow

9:00 Supernatural

Wednesday is the king of standing pat for ABC. Not a single show is new, which some may see as lazy but I see as correct (for now). If it ain’t broke, why tinker with it? Same to NBC. It sure isn’t great on Wednesdays over there, but up against CBS’s consistent 8-10 ratings performers, they couldn’t hope for much more.

New shows Code Black (Think E.R. meets Grey’s Anatomy, with more of an emphasis on the E.R, bent) and Rosewood (beautiful people in Miami on Fox) are as follows. Code Black has a shot. Rosewood should not.

THURSDAY

ABC

8:00 Grey’s Anatomy

9:00 Scandal

10:00 How To Get Away With Murder

CBS

Thursday Night football until nov. So as of Nov.

8:00 The Big Bang Theory

8:30  LIFE IN PIECES (NEW)

9:00 Mom

9:30 ANGEL FROM HELL (NEW)

NBC

8:00 HEROES REBORN

9:00 The Blacklist

10:00 THE PLAYER (NEW)

FOX

8:00 Bones

9:00 Sleepy Hollow

CW

8:00 The Vampire Diaries

9:00 The Originals (New Time)

What to say about Thursday? Well, a lot of it got said back on Monday, at least for CBS. It’s nice (or perhaps actually lazy) that NBC wants to bring back Heroes, but it is doomed to fail against football, Big Bang, and Shonda-land. As for new shows, Jane Lynch’s Angel From Hell is a maybe (but probably not). NBC’s The Player appears to owe a lot to Person Of Interest and, perhaps, Max Payne.

“We gamble on crime. He’s the dealer. I’m the pit boss. Want to be our player?”

Thanks, but no.

FRIDAY

8:00 Last Man Standing

8:30 DR. KEN (NEW)

9:00 Shark Tank

10:00 20/20

CBS

8:00 The Amazing Race

9:00 Hawaii Five-0

10:00 Blue Bloods

NBC

8:00 Undataeble

8:30 PEOPLE ARE TALKING

9:00 Grimm

10:00 Dateline

FOX

8:00 Masterchef Junior

9:00 World’s Funniest

CW

8:00 Reign

9:00 America’s Next Top Model

And lastly, Fridays (because the networks gave up on Saturday ten years ago). Fridays give us a whole lot of reality (Gordon Ramsay, Shark Tank, Amazing Race) and two okay-looking new comedies, one starring that guy from The Hangover and Community who we all know is is a doctor, because he never stops telling us he’s a doctor, and the other starring Zach Morris, who thinks his new babysitter is also a porn star. Hmmm. Both could work, but since they’re on Fridays it suggests to me neither network thinks they will work.

And that… finally.. is a comprehensive look at the networks’ schedules for next fall. Clearly ABC has the best schedule, Fox is taking the most chances, especially on Tuesday, and I’m excited about maybe three or four shows here (Muppets, The Grinder, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,  and, if we wanted to toss in a perhaps it would be People Are Talking).

Thanks for reading my Fall-TV blog! All comments welcome. I’m curious what you think will (and won’t) work next fall!

The Oscars: My Take

I love movies.

I always make it my mission to see all of the Best Picture nominees before the show. I don’t always get there, but it’s a good goal to have. This year my final number: 5 out of eight, with Whiplash (6) on its way via amazon. That means I will have yet to see only Selma  and American Sniper as of this time next week (after my girlfriend and I watch J.K. Simmons teach his music methods through violence).

Full disclosure: I was rooting hard for Boyhood in the best picture race. It was the best film of the past year. Twelve years in the making, it will stand as director Richard Linklater’s true masterpiece. But Hollywood always loves stories about itself. So I wasn’t surprised when Sean Penn announced Birdman as the best picture.

I was so happy to see the best actor statue didn’t go to Michael Keaton, who would have been the sentimental, life-time achievement winner. Eddie Redmayne’s Stephen Hawcking was spot-on and so perfectly done you almost forgot you were watching a man who could get up out of Hawking’s wheelchair and walk to his car at the end of the day.

Three categories were obvious before the night opened. Both best supporting categories and the best actress oscar. No one–and I mean no one–has seen Still Alice, for which Julianne Moore took home her first oscar in five nominations. Everyone should see Boyhood; the boy’s mother is your best supporting actress winner, Patricia Arquette. J.K. Simmons is such a likable nice-guy character actor, who takes home oscar for playing an ass of a teacher. (I’ve had a few of those. They didn’t beat me up or anything, but haven’t we all had jerks for teachers? *Grin.*).

There’s not much to say as to the animated films. Other than: Where the heck was The Lego Movie? How do you not at least nominate them, academy? If you had you know everything would have been awesome.

Barney Stinson–errr, NPH–hosted the festivities. He did well–no one is ever perfect in that job. Ask David Letterman. But I thought he was very good. I am a huge NPH fan, and so any excuse to watch him, and I’m there.

The best moments of the night, in no particular order:

When that Polish guy didn’t leave the stage. He just kept talking, and everyone was like, Ah, what the hell? He’s cool.

Lady Gaga sings Sound Of Music, ending in an embrace with Julie Andrews.

John Legend and Common perform Glory. And Oprah apparently thinks she herself fought in the civil rights movement or something. You. Are. Not. Rosa. Parks. But the song was amazing. Amazing!

And, of course, NPH’s opening niumber just NAILED it! What a great way to celebrate movies!

My grandmother taught me to love movies. She would have loved last night. And we would have called each other tonight to talk about it. She’s not here anymore. So this blog will have to do.

What did you think of the oscars?

The Best New TV Show Of The Season Is…..

If you had told me, my loyal follower who has waited with me through the long editing process for my book (which should be done by week’s end, I say as I cross my fingers), that the best new show of the season (Gotham is good, not great, A To Z could be good, if NBC doesn’t give up on it, NBC’s Mary Me looks kinda lame, but we’ll see as it airs tonight, and I suppose someone thinks Black-ish is a good show, but I have yet to meet that person) would be a little show on The CW, I would have said you were crazy.
(By the way, a note to TV networks: How am I supposed to take you seriously when your network’s name begins with the word The? No one would watch The NBC or The CBS. Zuckerberg was told to drop The from Facebook. So from now on, you are CW. Are we clear? Just CW, and that is all.)
So now to the best new show of the season. It is….
Jane The Virgin.
Granted, the premise sounds a little nuts. Religious young woman, saving herself until her nuptials, is artificially inseminated at what should be a routine checkup.
Huh? What is he telling me to watch?
I know it sounds weird. But trust me. It’s got the most heart of any of the new shows this fall. It’s got a girl destined for breakout stardom (Gina Rodriguez as Jane), and it’s got muscle behind it: CW likes it, and I think knows what they have, and it was brought to America by the same guy who brought Ugly Betty to ABC.
It may not seem like your cup of tea, but give it a chance. It airs Mondays, but the pilot airs again at 8 P.M. Friday, right before no one watches another season of America’s Next Top Model.
Jane The Virgin will air regularly Mon. 9 P.M. out of some show called The Originals, spun off of The Vampire Diaries. And now, after writing that last sentence, I need to feel like a man again. When’s the next football game? Thursday, get here quick!