Thursday, January 31, 2008

Why We Kvell
a quick note from Simon - who knew?

So, Sera is mysteriously out of town but flashed a special Jew Signal in the sky to remind me to tell our bloggy mishpuchah that she's got an essay up on Why We Write, a site where film and TV writers tell about how they ended up that way. Sera's piece is a juicy recollection of her angsty youth, which will furnish you with both understanding and delight. Nu, so read it already.

And if, after that burst of discursive candor, you're in the mood for a geekier shade of writing about writing, perhaps you'll meander on over to the newsletter that the fair Julia and I just released. It's got a sampler plate of goodies about language on the business side, and there's even a place to subscribe, so's it can sidle up to your inbox every month.

OK, enough pimpin' for one post. I know what you're really wondering: where's Sera?

Since we exist to stoke your imagination, we invite you to use the comments section to concoct short narratives about where in the world our smokin' Jewess might be (extra points if it's done in the style of a bodice-ripper paperback). Or, if you prefer, about where I might be going when I leave town tomorrow night. No fair chiming in if you actually know. The winner will get a shout-out in a future post, which could possibly mark the start of a dizzying rise to fame (and subsequent Britney-level crash-and-burn). So get to scribblin'!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Thing About Stuff
by Virtual SimonTM

Blogging has so quickly and pervasively become part of what the culture talks about that it's easy to forget why people do it. Sure, a lot of the time it's just a way to blather without interruption or vent one's spleen (guilty as charged), but the most rewarding thing about doing this here Very Hot writing has been exchanging ideas and wishes and pleasantries with all of you. The comments just get more moving, perceptive, wise and funny every day. Please keep 'em coming.

I've been laid up with a mysterious virus for a week or so, during which time such strenuous activities as going to the store or standing up for five minutes or longer made me feel as though I'd run a marathon. Thankfully, Sera's been kicking serious ass with her last few posts – as the comments below amply demonstrate – and like a lot of you, I've felt inspired and more than a little challenged by the ideas she's been exploring.

I don't mind telling you that the pleasures of are accompanied by nagging anxieties: What can I write about? Will I sound self-involved and/or pompous? Are readers disappointed because my discursive hobbyhorses are so often less hot and less Jewy than they have reason to expect? Should we be updating the site every day with little newsy bites rather than more infrequent, long-winded vision quests?

Now Sera has raised the bar. I can't see myself following her provocative, revealing meditations on sacred dancing and silence with some riff on pork products or monster movies. Not that those aren't worthy topics, but I want to follow her lead for now and explore some more trenchant territory.

Fact is, I've been thinking about stuff.

No, not "thinking about stuff." Thinking about stuff. Material goods. Possessions. The items we covet.

Like Sera, I'm a professional writer. I don't write a TV show (and even if I did, I wouldn't be writing one now, would I? Solidarity!); our clients hire the fair Julia and me to craft all manner of marketing materials, lifestyle-branding collateral, entertainment hype and other glittery promo-prose. We do pretty well, but running a business in the ruined Bush economy can be punishing, especially if you've got a mortgage and insurance and kindred grown-up expenses. Checks come in and the money's already gone, devoured by a ravenous pack of bills.

Which doesn't keep me from wanting more stuff – shiny Fender Telecasters, vintage barware, some groovy art from a local gallery, an Armani coat, an SLR digital camera, moon boots, a jet pack ... you get the idea.

But even when I do get more stuff and bring it home, my awareness of all my old stuff is enhanced. It's as though everything I already own and have neglected has let out a collective sigh, like weary prisoners welcoming a new inmate.

I've realized that what I really want is less stuff.

This thought feels super Zeitgeisty. Peeps are buzzing about a book called The History of Stuff. The Green movement may be too late (or WAY too late) to save us from spending our golden years in wetsuits, but they've certainly raised awareness about reducing consumption and petty acquisition. And in our own sphere, our beloved housemate is moving out to co-habit with his beloved GF and now faces the herculean task of transferring his boatload of possessions from our place to various storage locales.

And then there was this story I heard on NPR not long ago about the decline of commerce on Second Life. For those of you who don't know, that's a "3D online digital world" where people can log on and have a completely digital existence. They can even spend real money to buy virtual money ("Linden Dollars") so they can purchase virtual things like online land and furniture for the online cribs that sit on that land and cars for their online commutes. Real brands like clothiers and athletic-shoe makers and soft-drink purveyors have thrived there. Third-world businesses have busily evolved manufacturing centers for virtual goods; dirt-poor residents of Asian villages actually "make" stuff on computers for netizens to buy. I shit you not.

But everything in the cyber-sphere is ahead, so Second Life and kindred sites are experiencing a debilitating downturn now; the NPR commentator noted the grim site of shuttered stores on the virtual thoroughfare.

Imagine telling your virtual child that there'll be no imaginary Chanukah this year, and that you'll all have to tighten your (unreal, though likely Prada) belts and spend less money on nonexistent things.

This story didn't impress itself on my increasingly forgetful gray matter simply because of its rich comic possibilities. In my mind, the virtual production of virtual stuff for virtual acquisition – and the virtual economic collapse of said industry – engendered a kind of spiritual metaphor.

Because when we have reached such an ethereal summit of consumption – when the "thing-ness" of the things we buy is subordinated to the crackish intoxication of buying itself – we are confronted by a paradox of koan-like dimensions. We are focusing our energies on buying ... well, not nothing, exactly, but no-things. But what we have to show for it is nothing. The experience of acquisition is all. Scratch that: the virtual experience.

I don't have a flop on Second Life, but the piles of things that clutter the margins of my world, so many of which I lusted after and schemed to get, may as well be made of ones and zeroes.

I want less stuff and more (non-virtual) experience. I want to unload what I've got. Want to give me a present? Make a no-interest loan in my name to an entrepreneur in the developing world via, or send some livestock to a third-world villager through Heifer International so he or she can raise goats in the fresh air instead of making virtual crap.

Now, tickets to a show? A trip to Hawaii? Those I'll take.

P.S. I speak only for me. Sera's birthday is upon us, and as far as I know she will still accept material goods. Thank you.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

On Shutting Up.
(a thinly-veiled rant by Sera)

In the middle of my week-long workshop at shiny happy Esalen, my teacher made a suggestion that changed my life for, I hope, evah. Here's how it went down.

We spent the morning dancing (ecstatically). At lunchtime, she rang her little Tibetan bell and gestured for us to gather 'round the tealight votives. And then she told us she'd chatted with one of her students, who gave her a great idea for an exercise. This exercise, she said, was totally optional. But she felt it would help us stay with the stuff we were learning in the workshop - because we only work for four or five hours, and spend the rest of the day eating organic food and soaking in the hot springs and staring dumbly at the beauty all around us... and, of course, yammering on and on to each other about our jobs back home, our favorite yoga position (I like Buddha Reclining On Futon With Remote Control), the dubious merits of polyamory, our awesome therapists, the horror wreaked by Tara Reid's plastic surgeon, and whatever other topic best serves that universal Esalen pastime, flirting like it's 1968.

The idea, she said, was to Hold Silence. That means this: outside of the short discussions we have while working, no talking for 24 hours. Little stickies reading "In Silence" would be provided; if we wore them, everyone would know not to be offended when we mutely pointed at stuff. "Just see how it goes," she said. "It's optional. But it could be interesting."

Noise erupted in the Dance Dome. Excited chatter, with an edge of panic. I knew immediately that I would be grabbing the opportunity to be In Silence for 24 hours. God knows I've never done it before, and who knows when I'd ever get to try it again?

I've long been fascinated by silence. I keep thinking (and then forgetting) I'm going to google the phrase "silent meditation retreat," for example. See, I am a person who knows she talks A LOT. Words are my living, my fluffy pillow, my titanium shield, the fat marshmallows in my Ovaltine. You know those t-shirts that say "Jesus Is My Homeboy"? The English language is my homeboy.

This is so true of me that it deserves another paragraph or three. Y'all know I make my Very Hot mortgage payment by typing words in script form. Did you know that before I sacrificed my freakish ability at the altar of College Substance Experimentation, I was also a Spelling Bee champion? It's t-r-u-e. My seventh grade year, I was nine nerdy kids away from going to Washington to compete in the Nationals. (Remember that the next time you think you're the geekiest person you know. You know me.) I have this inner sense of words, their little motors and gears, the weight of their individual letters, how they came to be. When I first read Lolita I cherished it for what it was: porn. Not kiddie porn - though there are a couple of nice moments if you're into that too - but word porn. I could feel Nabokov rolling around in the English language like Demi Moore on a bed full of a crisp nonsequential bills. I saw a kindred spirit - hey, I ain't saying I'll ever write like the dude, I'm just saying I feel where he's coming from.

Back in the day, when I was a poor freelancer, I often churned out press releases and artist bios for Sime's Lovely Wife Julia, then an editor for Dreamworks Records. Those pieces were essentially two pages of interview quotes, each followed by a variation of the phrase "he said." Jules sent me a three page list of alternates for the word "said." Hazarded, relayed, quipped, elaborated, confessed. Some so useful, some so awkward, some so unexpectedly intimate. Oh, how tickled I was by that list of said words. I still have it somewhere. I think it is awesome. The fact that Simon and Julia understand my deep and abiding affection for that list is a primary reason we're such good friends.

So, yeah, I heart me some blah blah blah. But I also know that there's more to life, and more to me, than just pleasurable discourse. And I'm a curious kind of chick. I wanna know what's on the other side. So I grabbed a stickie and declared myself In Silence.

Full disclosure: I had a moment of oh fuck no, what have I done?! I couldn't figure out how I was going to shut up for that long. I've never even shut up through an entire dinner. Not even when pissed at parents or boyfriend - I always opted for the acid "pass the butter," at the very least. But I got a hold of myself. The anxiety passed, replaced my a warm, glowing nugget of excitement in my belly. I do love an exercise.

So, the next 24 hours were epic. I learned so much about myself that I could easily fill four or five posts - not that I'm going to, because a lot of it wouldn't translate. Well, that's a lie, it probably would, I just don't want to tell you about it. It's not that I don't love you - I do. You're so damn Hot, who could resist you? It's just... a lot of what happened isn't funny. It's not light, blogarific material.

Some of it (lucky you!) is blog-friendly - like when I got busted in the Dance Dome in the middle of the night by an irate Australian Esalen employee in a strange hempy hat for doing various [redacted] things with another workshop member. And then there was dinner in the packed, buzzing dining hall, In Silence amid a sea of blabbing folk, unable to shut out their gobsmackingly inane conversation with the sound of my own voice. Around the third time the guy at the next table repeated the key phrase of his disturbingly meal-inappropriate tale ("I was so disgusted with myself that I just vomited. I vomited and vomited and vomited!") I started laughing hysterically and simply could not stop. Tears rolled down my face. My In Silence dinner companion stared at me with benevolent confusion before finally shrugging and returning his full, rich, intense Silent focus to the brownie he was consuming with near-erotic concentration.

Anyway, a lot of my experience can be summed up by saying: I had a few of the best conversations of my life.

I had no idea people would keep talking if I didn't punctuate their tale with "mm hmm"s and wry observations. Turns out - people will talk. In fact, if you just wait long enough, they'll tell you the thing they really wanted to say all along, the thing they were scared of saying, the thing they were half-hoping you would cut them off before they got to (and half-praying you wouldn't). Because I wasn't speaking, my only job was to listen. I did a fair smattering of nodding, too. And I cried a bit - I had a conversation with a woman that lasted over an hour, in which she told me some pretty deep and serious personal shit. She spoke simply and clearly about being scared, and my heart broke like a loose pill in a handbag. I felt helpless and honored. Afterwards, I thought about how I ordinarily would have tried to give that woman advice. But what do I know, really? Doubtless nothing she hasn't heard before. All she really needed was someone to listen. So: yay for that In Silence Stickie. It helped me do what, under normal circumstances, I am probably not mature enough to handle.

Why am I telling you this? Well, this morning my well-meaning neighbor stopped me while I was walking Mojo.

"I heard on the news," she said. "Tough break."

I asked her what she was talking about. She said she'd just heard a report indicating that the WGA strike might go on for another year.

I assured her it was all rumor. No one knows how long the strike could last - that's the nature of striking. A year... well, that is serious doomsday predicting. I'm not saying it's impossible. I'm just saying it's not fact, and it's upsetting, so why spread that around?

I know a lot of you distractingly sexy people have found this blog because you are TV fans and you are looking for info, any info - even, in the absence of something better, speculation from a random producer on a show that gets ratings that would cause Shonda Rhimes to stick her head in an oven. So I would like to take this opportunity to say: NO ONE KNOWS WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN.

By no one, I mean people who are not media moguls. If you are not hearing the gossip from Peter Chernin, you are doing the strike-time equivalent of feeding Britney another frappuccino. No good will come of it. And at this point, we are all getting tired. Tired people are vulnerable. They get upset more easily. I work off my strike hours these days at WGA Headquarters, cleaning out the musty, musky vans and pulling staples out of wooden sticks. I stand in a room stacked high with picket signs, listening as a half-dozen or so increasingly tired and vulnerable writers speculate. Optimism for up to fifteen minutes devolves quickly into resigned exhaustion - teetering dangerously close to raging hopelessness. Luckily, we have electric staple guns into which to channel our frustration. BAM! BAM! Another sign successfully constructed. Take that, AMPTP! By 7:45, the conversation magically turns to this year's object of writer player-hate, Diablo Cody. I'm not kidding - this happens every single shift I work. Someone disparages the authenticity of her stripper background and says people don't talk like Juno. Which is apparently unacceptable because... Juno is meant to be a searing look at the cold hard reality of the word choices of plucky preggers teeny-bops? Since she was going to be writing about it, Diablo wasn't really all up in the body odor of the lapdance-ee of the moment, but rather safely ensoconced in The Matrix? (Hey, Diablo - if you're reading this? Just between me and you, I think you deserve the hype. I checked your box on the nomination ballot the WGA sent. And yes, you can buy me a coffee.)

Anyway, whilst the night shift of bespectacled writers duct-tapes splintery sign handles, bitches pithily, and prognosticates like a bunch of balding Cassandras, I think you know I am telling the truth when I say: I say nothing.

Wouldn't you like to join me? In saying a little more nothing? I think we could all use the company, because it is difficult to sit still with agitation. Any good Buddhist will tell you that - trying to cope with anxiety and worry is why a whole shitload of 'em dumped their previous church of choice and picked up meditating to begin with. I'm not even a bad Buddhist, I'm a secular Jew who eats bacon and mostly dates gentiles, yet I know this truth with the same deep certainly with which I know that the word for something way uncool to religious people is not spelled the same way as the word "religious" (i.e.: "sacrilegious," a word that totally would have sent me to Washington if I'd gotten it instead of stupid, stupid "tectonics." Not that I'm bitter.)

It is difficult to just be with the Not Knowing. Actually, the word "difficult" is too mild. It is totally fucking hard as shitballs in the Sahara to just be with the Not Knowing.

But the other option - spinning rumors, worrying, kvetching, trying to turn suspect information into a cohesive grid - doesn't help. Just because a theory is logical doesn't make it true. The true thing is that we little guys, writers and viewers alike, have next to zero control over the strike. We can choose to picket, send pencils to moguls, write a blog. But we can't tell either side's negotiators what to do. We can't make the big shit happen, or stop happening. We are along for the ride. Sucks, but it's true. Now you know how 99.9% of people felt during any historical event you ever read about. Honestly, if you set your mind to it, you can probably have more impact on which candidate lands the Democratic presidential nomination than on the outcome of this strike.

I've been contacted a few times since the new year by various fan site administrators and journalist types, asking if I could verify a rumor that the show I work for has been cancelled. Apparently the rumor is strong and pernicious. I'd like to use this rumor briefly, as an example of why we should all put on In Silence Stickies. Here goes.

If a network TV show was cancelled, it would be in the legitimate press. And before that, it would almost certainly be scooped by the likes of Nikki Finke - who herself is so sick of sifting third-hand info that she just took a week off. It wouldn't happen in secret. It couldn't. Nor would a network in wartime want it to - cancelled shows are pilloried for the masses, their gruesome severed heads set up on stakes. The better to freak out striking writers.

It's natural to want to feel some sense of control in crazy times. To search for a fact, any fact, to quell the insecurity. But I got bad news: what you're clutching to your chest ain't a fact. It's a crazymaking little rumor. It's about as good for you as snorting a pound of pixie stix.

So, in the absence of grasping at straws, what are we left with? Good question. Here's what I know - and I am a supreme expert, because I spent an entire twenty-four hour period in silence, which, I'm not sure, but may be some form of worldwide Jewish record.

We are left with listening.

Not listening to the rumors - that's almost as bad as repeating them. They're like... let's pick a good metaphor here, shall we? They're like mosquitoes. They bite you. What they carry gets in your blood stream. Swat 'em, yo.

But listening to people - even the people spouting streams of totally unverified crap - is pretty damn fascinating. You learn a lot about a person by how they tell a story. By what they latch onto. By what upsets them, what energizes them, what they need reassurance about. Any time your friend opens their mouth, they are giving you the opportunity to get to know them better. No matter what they say. Same with your parents; same with that disgruntled Hollywood florist fearing for their job; same with WGA Commander-in-Chief Patric Verrone. Slap a mental In Silence Stickie on yourself for a hot second. Wait. See listening as an exercise less in grasping for something to comfort your harried mind and more as an opportunity to learn a little something about whoever's doing the talking.

I don't mean to sound all teacher-y about this. All kidding aside, I consider myself to be a near-total novice in... well, a whole fuckload of things having to do with human interaction. I didn't become a writer because I was so genius at understanding people; I did it because I was so confused by people that I figured if I reconstructed their behavior on paper, I might be able to make better sense of it. I'm sharing because a)I am over the fear-mongering, and wanted to announce it publicly; and b)the above-suggested attitude adjustment has turned this time of grand weirdness, ick and uncertainty into a fun experiment for me. Talking people are the test subjects, the strike is the lab. If you want to come talk to me, I'll be in the corner with a clipboard, taking notes. I'm the Jewish one with all the hair. You know, the one with her mouth shut.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Dance Dance Revolution!

Happy Jew Year, you luscious hunks of readership you. On the first mewling day of this baby-fresh year I went to visit Sime and Lovely Wife Julia. Armed with a bottle of bubbly and a screener of a Very Important Movie which we never got to because of the yakking and the noshing and the sipping and the kvelling, I plopped onto their comfy leather couch and launched into a tale of Just Where I've Been for the last week.

I told you before about Esalen, the shiny butterfly paradise by the sea – so replete with Human Potential. The week of Xmas, I slid up the 101 and back into the arms of my Big Sur hideaway for seven days of organic food, crazy hot springs action, sleepless nights whispering with my NYC Shiksa Queen roomie "P", and several hours a day of dancing my ass off. Not just any dancing - ecstatic dancing. Dance as a spiritual practice. That's right, I said it: when I get jiggy, I'm not just being Very Hot and Jewish, I'm also being Deep. I'm Tapping In. I'm Communing. I'm doing loads of stuff just begging to be capitalized and hyperlinked.

Man, dancing is the shit. Not, like, choreographed dancing. That kind of dancing is, well, hard. It makes you feel stupid if you can't get it right, as Sime will tearfully confess if you ever get him started on his adolescent "performance workshop" phase. It might make you look stupid even if you do get it right. Britney Spears spent a lot of time with choreography, and we all know what that led to.

My kind of dancing is more about gettin' loose to the beat at hand. Sweating it up with like-minded revelers who just want to reach that feeling of not being in their heads for ten or fifteen minutes of the long and harried day. Grooving like I'm alone in my living room, except with a bunch of other people also jigging their way through their own private Idaho. Like the Classic Rock Singalong, 'cept you don't even need a lyric sheet.

Maybe you want me to say I've found the cure - the cure to stress, and feeling separate from one's peeps, and loneliness, and sorrow. Maybe you want me to say the cure is dancing. But I am not here to lie to the Very Hot. Therefore I will tell you the truth. Here is the truth:

I have found the cure. The cure is dancing.

This is especially fortuitous as Sime and I have been endeavoring to come up with a good catchphrase for the new year. A curmudgeonly writer friend of mine, a Spicy Hebe With Dreadlocks, fired me an email declaring he was "all about the Hate in '08." His first target: Diablo Cody. You might be next.

This alarmed me. Because it is easy to slip into the hatin'. Not just when a chick with the hipster-ironic version of your backstory nails a massive hole-in-one with her first screenplay (worry not, dear reader; I live by the golden rule: don't hate the player, hate the game. And, since I don't hate the game, we're right back where we left off in my admittedly difficult to follow train of thought). It's easy to reach for a big bloody bag of O, Negative in the absence of something to hold onto. Hence the need for millions of Starbucks, one on every corner. The cynical bastards of the world require a black, bitter cup o' overpriced joe to nurse along with their vehement disdain.

The Very Hot Jews wish for you to avoid the Hate in '08. We love you too much to see you flail down the shame spiral of mysanthropy. So we're sharing our new slogan with you - Simon declared it, after I told him of my mystical Esalen adventure (which, by the way, also involves being busted by Institute authorities in the middle of the night for doing something I cannot tell you about on this blog because, well, I'd rather you use your imagination but I will say:
  1. It wasn't illegal but was definitely frowned upon in that location and context, and

  2. The other busted individual was another dancer and even Jewish, which I know would matter to some of you if you knew what we were doing which you don't so go wash your brain out with soap).
This isn't going to be much of a reveal, considering all of the above. But the VHJ would like to gently but firmly suggest you Dance It Out In '08.

Seriously, my brothers. Obviously, my sisters. We Jewy types can talk a thing to death. Poor horses - maybe if they were kosher our people wouldn't spend so much time beating dead ones. If you're like me, on any given day you can Freud yourself into a self-reflective stupor before your first hit of latte kicks in. You can Jung yourself silly. You can dive into your worried mind and turn every damn stone, then freak out over each tiny pillbug of insecurity revealed beneath.

A certain amount of this is a good idea. The unexamined life, etc. Also, if you didn't worry at all, something bad would surely happen that could easily have been prevented if you'd just let your neurotic imagination run wild for a few minutes. Sure, Joan Didion would call this magical thinking. But as your mom will gladly remind you, the worrying brain acts as a giant backwards magnet that repels disaster.

Plus, some of us – like for instance both halves of this here blogging duo – need to camp out in our hot little minds so that we can produce scripts and ad copy and other written things that pay our mortgages. Our calling requires extended rappelling into the scary, solemn, Stygian reaches of the grayest of gray matter. Not to get all neo-Cartesian on your ass, but, as Simon likes to say: We think, therefore we are ... paid. (Or, if you like, Cogito ergo fork over my sum.)

So, yeah, I'm not entirely disparaging the notion of living like a hermit in one's own head, as Death Cab For Cutie so alterna-rockishly put it.

But. You have a body. You're in it right now, like it or not. You may regard it as a brainstand or head pedestal, but it still requires loving care. You don't get to dump it for a sleeker model. You don't get to leave it and go flying around visiting Jennifer Love Hewitt, at least until you get hit by a stray bullet and die without getting to tell your family something real important. It is sitting there right now, a dumb lump of muscle and bone and possibly THC-saturated adipose tissue, listening to all your thoughts. I'm sorry, but it is. That's why your back does that ow-y thing when you're stressed. That's why your shoulders have meandered up into your ears and why when you can't pay your bills you weirdly discover you also can't take a shit ... look, enough examples, I don't really want to get quite this into your business.

I'm just saying. Your body is a wonderland and you're totally missing the ride.

Hey, at least it isn't a picture of John Mayer.

2008 is unlikely to be quiet and contemplative. There's an election coming up - you can tell by the look of horror on Simon's face. Gas prices are still zooming (and you know by now I mean that less in terms of shelling out at the pump and more in terms of all the kids coming back from the war minus limbs. Or not coming back at all). Most of L.A. is gonna be out of work soon if this strike doesn't resolve. Apple will come out with something new and shiny you need to have. Beyoncé will release something loud and cursedly catchy. JLo will have her babies and the ruckus caused will only be superceded by Jamie Lynn having her baby. (BTW, WTF with THAT story? I leave civilization for a week, and when I come back not only is Benazir Bhutto dead, but Britney's sister is preggers by some old, disgusting fucktard who is inexplicably being protected from public stoning?!)

Anything could happen at any time, people. And everyone I know has this uneasy sense that in '08, if it can happen, it will. Get flood insurance. Get fire insurance. Get meteor insurance.

Or hey, maybe I'm projecting. Maybe 2008 is merely unlikely to be cool, calm and collected for moi. My industry is in a supercalifragalistic clusterfuck; I'm elbow-deep in a bunch of time-consuming projects; I'm suddenly, out of nowhere, developing crushes on living and eligible humans in my close vicinity (as opposed to comfortably rolling my eyes at every dude I meet, because when you're as busy as I am it's easier to apply your idle crush-ology to that pillhead doctor with a limp on that show where he's all mean and sexy all the time); the gaping maw of the VHJ blog will never cease demanding wordy sacrifice; my goddaughter is orbiting ever closer to adolescence, a situation which requires constant vigilance; I don't want to fall behind on the Y:The Last Man comics; and if I don't stay on top of things with Mojo, he'll eat something that makes him fart like a hurricane.

So, shit's gonna happen. And when it does (and when it doesn't, even) I'm gonna Dance It Out. So is Sime, and if you're lucky you'll get to watch, because his "Peanut Butter Jelly Time" dance is legend. Most of my friends will be Dancing It Out too. Are you one of my friends? If you are, do this for me: pull up your iTunes or go to your radio or whatevs, and play that funky music, Person Of Whatever Race(s).

It doesn't matter if you're tired, if you threw out your back chasing your diabetic cat around with a syringe in your hand, or if you're in a wheelchair and can only dance with your arms and your eyebrows. It doesn't matter if your only prior experience on the dance floor was swaying imperceptibly between chugs of Heineken.

This isn't a competition. It will not be televised. No British suckwads will wittily deride your efforts. It's for you. It's a way to be down with reality for a hot second. Reality feels like loud sounds all around you that you cannot control so you might as well enjoy. It feels like that noise's percussion vibrating your soles. It's other people's smells and their secret vulnerability that peeks out to say yo when you move with them. It's the stick of sweat on your nape, the ache in your knees, the jagged impulse that wants your pelvis to swing thataway, ASAP. It's a world populated by lots of other ordinary miracles like you, moving through their days in the best way they can, trying at worst not to cause bodily injury and at best to feel pretty damn great. You don't want to dance, you say, because your dance is lame? Let me rephrase the question: You think you're the only one of us trying to be all perfect? I sympathize, but you oughtta know - perfection is sooooo '07. In '08, we dance.

You will likely feel self-conscious, at first. Even if you've knocked back a coupla gin fizzes or called in your ancestors with a wand of white sage or whatever you use to launch the rocket of disinhibition. You'll be hyper-aware of your "stock" moves. Nighmarish recollections of teenage embarrassment might caper before you like red-eyed demons. But gradually, the part of you that really wants and needs to move will show up and go all Saturday Night Fever and your body will take it from there. And the euphoria that rushes out of the center of your being? That's the real hotness, as opposed to the coiffed, airbrushed and artfully scented substitute the world tries to sell us 24/7.

Dancing is the human equivalent of pressing Ice Crush on your blender. Juices get stirred. Everything blends and gets smooth. And, yes, you become more and more delicious.

That's your mandate. Go forth and Dance It Out. You're not allowed to be cynical of it till you try it twice. When have we led you wrong? The VHJs exist to aid you. We're bringing you gold here.

Happy 2008. Batten down the hatches. See ya on the dance floor.