CAUTION:  My girl, Carol, speaks her mind in a strong, brassy and vibrant fashion.  If you are offended by straight talking, adult oriented language (sometimes, there's a "very" in there), please be aware that you may well find it here.  Carol shoots from the hip and tells it like it is, pulling no punches and taking no prisoners.  That's why I love her & why I hired her.  If it's not your bag, let's part still friends and salute our differences in tastes (I'm sort of a strong strawberry flavor...)  ~*~Katrina~*~


Last Ditch 

I give soaps about another year. But then, what the hell am I gonna do with my free time, go out and actually get a job, volunteer at a shelter, save the world? Címon! 
 

As the numbers came in for yet another dismal week overall for soaps (AMC climbed up to #2 though during the height of the baby-switching story), I let myself go there, and wonder what life would be like for me and mine if there were no longer any soaps to bitch and gripe about. 

It was a terrible thought. I suddenly felt very lonely, scared and desperate. 

What would I do every morning with my Talk Soup mug of coffee, cream and 17 sugars, in between laundry, dishes, grocery runs, choir rehearsals, church, meals and playground outings? Where would I go late at night when I canít fall asleep to the usual dulcet tones of Rachael Ray riffling off another one of her patented double-entendre food humor on $40 A Day

How in the world would I get my byline fix... if not via my two weekly soap columns here and on SoapZone? 

I then thought of options. Maybe I could switch my attention to politics, the rest of the entertainment industry, sex and religion, concentrate on a favorite band or TV show. Not quite the same, though... politics bores me, I donít know enough about sex or religion to fill up one column much less a regular weekly schtick, the rest of the entertainment industry is even more fucked up than the daytime faction in terms of duplicitous, materialistic, egotistical bullshit, with a thousand times more competition from other show biz gossip types even more cutthroat (what could I possible contribute to this field of ribald, nothing-is-sacred cynics?). 

Nothing else even comes close to this familiarity of nostalgia, big fish in little pond, small, ostracized but tenacious community... not even music, and I was born humming along to my momís Latin and Ď50s-influenced bands and my dadís big band and Broadway musicals. Itíd be like telling them to go away, changing my name and going undercover in Russia, forced to live in exile in rank obscurity and poverty. 
 

A Little History 

Iíve been with Jeff Jungblut at SoapZone (which debuted in 1995/96 as Port Charles Online, with just the GH board and a severe case of the Sonny and Brenda blues) for about eight years now, four or five of those spent as his News & Gossip and Scoops & Spoilers columnist. There have been times heís thought about pulling the plug, due to soap disinterest, disgust with the business of babysitting a bunch of soap-obsessed crybabies (and the various powers that be that insist they donít visit there)ónot all, just some repeat offenders, the cost to run the active boards. With the success of his pay-to-post safely in place for several years now, what, was it since 2000 or 2001?, I neednít worry about longevity (heíd never do it, he loves us co-dependently too much, ha ha), yet I do. I often wonder how much longer he and his SoapZone can live on. I mean, eventually he might like to do something else, build a family, conquer the world. Nothing lasts forever, right? ... Least of all on the Internet, where the average life span of an average website is about, oh, six months, and the average ĎNet-head has the attention span of even less. 

For a constant sort like me, itís impossible to find constancy online. I grow attached to certain virtual places, and inevitably, the person who runs a particularly favorite, familiar haunt grows disenchanted and takes off. Trying to find talented writers with which to provide quality content on a daily to weekly basis is almost as impossible. Oh, there are plenty of talented writers out there, an obscene excess of them (in Seattle, you canít throw a rock without hitting one, spouting self-conscious beatnik poetry), in fact. But talented writers with the dedication, sense of responsibility and integrity to keep with the columns on a regular basis for the long haul? Forget about it. Why do you think Iím still around, pounding away at the keyboard... because Iím the next William F. Buckley?!... not, itís because deadlines are sacred to me, even when Iím throwing up with the flu and havenít slept for three days straight, my virtual bosses can depend on me, rain or shine. 

Iíve been with Katrina Rasbold for only about year or so with cubbyhole[s ic] and since this past spring, the soap version, channeling. Katrinaís been around for a while with her Eye on Soaps shortly after PCO/SZ became the standard for soap fans and industry bigwigs alike, and as far as sheís concerned, itíll be around for as long as she lives. Prior to her, I wrote for Nina Gregerson at SoapTown USA (FWIW-GH, Llan-VIEW-OLTL) for about two years, I think, and before even that, for a few months at DaytimeTV.net, under Val Beadle. I wished I couldíve stayed forever at each place I (voluntarily) worked at; itís just the kind of person I am... and yes, I wonder, too, how long each place I have been a part of, will last. Me and forever have an unrequited thing goiní on. Hereís hopiní Katrina means it with her forever. 

Whenever I go over some of the history of the various soap sites out there, itís interesting (and frightening) to note the many that have come and gone, as if in a flash, mostly due to an actor no longer inhabiting that particular soap role which caused a soap tribute site to be created in the first place.
 

Quality Doesnít Always Come With A Dick 

It always baffles me which sites receive notice, from online message board-posting fans and the soap press (always reluctant to acknowledge any other source but themselves). I hardly hear anything regarding About.com and DaytimeTV.net. Iíve heard some sites are so desperate for word of mouth, theyíve resorted to asking a few regular readers and friends to post links whenever they can. If a site features primarily a gossip columnist, like a Sage or a SoapBoy, that site will generate the most threads of discussion almost every single day, with some posters waiting around for the next great scoop, asking aloud when the next great scoop is, and some, joking that one of the gossip columnists in question, usually male (did you know Trixie took over the gossip page at SoapTown USA?... yeah, neither did I), coughed, making that a great big deal. 

I used to get caught up in that whole out-scoop, out-interview thing. But not for long, thank God, because inevitably, I always go back to my writing commentary, my sharing un-PC-like observations with a few close, choice friends via e-mails and on the phone, and searching in vain more and more for other commentary that seeks to disseminate and discern quality programming in daytime, while pointing out problems and solutions with a personal touch. 

I seek this not only in my soaps and online soap communities, but in every other aspect of my life. The church I attend recently switched head pastors, the former going to Indiana to tend to a new, smaller church. After a few months, another pastor, from Florida, was discovered Ė not as immediately charismatic, much older, a little more by the Good Book Ė and he literally transformed my impression of Northshore Christian Church & Academy, by keeping me awake, informed, enlightened and frequently taking notes. He blended personal anecdotes which I or my husband Eddie could readily relate to, and a laymanís working knowledge of the Bible, in parables, historic context and emotional resonance. Much of the Scripture that always had me shrugging my shoulders or scratching my head at the (in)significance above my head, this pastor, Ken Long, could explain in detail, details that didnít have me falling asleep or waiting for the fire and brimstone part. 

Some Jews wanted to settle in one part of the country. Joshua, or Moses, or somebody like that finally allowed them to settle, but only if they promised to cross the river Jordan and take up arms when called. Yeah, so what? In Pastor Longís revision, this meant God, through his people, could adapt for the lost, change his original plans for a three-day conquer, to accommodate the hesitant. Wow... I thought this part was just a recitation of one of many wars, as permanent record, as the listing of the generations begatting generations. 

Thatís the kind of entertainment I gravitate toward on both my screens, TV and computer. Unfortunately, save for the Eye on Soaps staff, a handful of other columnists hardly ever mentioned on the boards, public or private, and a handful fewer of the regular fans posting on those boards since around the time I started to, there is a dearth of Ken Longs. 
 

It All Started When We Got Jobs, And Cable 

Plenty can be attributed, and has, for the dearth of soap viewers today compared to the early 1990s. At the top of the list is the simple mathematics of supply and demand, coupled with the post-millennium status quo of both men and women in the work force. There are more channels on TV to watch, more options, even during the day, including cooking and decorating shows, fighting for airtime with soaps. Those who used to religiously catch every episode of their favorite soap can now tune in to the Travel Channel for their Top 10 Beaches fix, or TLC for home improvement tips... whereas as far back as the 1990s, talk shows, game shows and soaps were about it for variety. True, Y&R remains #1 in the Nielsen Ratings, but in what context? Take away three ratings points since the 1994-95 season, and 2 million steady viewers, and Y&Rís #1 rating doesnít look so promising. 

Others in and interested in the industry point to the lousy storytelling, the constant meddling by network executives and the misguided assumptions of management that the youth demographic is the most important aspect to consider when revamping soaps for the contemporary audience. No doubt, ABC Daytime rules in this regard, consistently destroying its three remaining soaps with plot-driven drivel loaded with unproven, under-30, physically beautiful but soullessly empty talent. 

The difference: it seems TPTB have little idea what to do with the talented and untalented casts, except insist almost blindly on changing to keep up with the changing times. Yet, time and time again, viewers, old and young, want the same thing that soaps have always provided, from as far back as the Ď50s/í60s through the evolving Ď80s/í90s: something that feels like real love and real romance. Tom Alsieri, vice president of research at NBC, said: ď... soaps still remain a gathering place for these women despite the proliferation of choices that is exploding across TV and cable. Soapsí strengths are still where they have been for most of history. Those needs remain; those basic desires are still there.Ē [SOD, ďWhere Have The Soap Fans Gone?Ē by Mike Bruno, 10/12] 
 

Signs Of Extinction? 

Soapsí strengths, however diluted at times, continue to keep this genre alive and kicking. Not well, but maybe not quite halfway into the grave, either. 

The upcoming, annual Super Soap Weekend (Nov. 13-14, Disney Worldís MGM Studios, Orlando, FL) might persuade the easily-jaded of the graveyard direction, as some of ABCís most popular daytime stars have bagged on the whole deal, for whatever reason Ė whether invited by the network bigwigs or due to a conflict in scheduling Ė prompting a lot of their fans to bag as well. 

AMC and OLTL still boast a fairly decent line-up of their cast, a lot of familiar favorites, some actually over 30. A sampling: AMCís Susan Lucci (Erica), Rebecca Budig (Greenlee), Michael E. Knight (Tad), Alexa Havins (Babe), Thorsten Kaye (Zach), Cameron Mathison (Ryan), Alicia Minshew (Kendall), Eden Riegel (Bianca), Walt Willey (Jackson); OLTLís Kassie DePaiva (Blair), Hillary B. Smith (Nora), Kathy Brier (Marcie), Kamar de los Reyes (Antonio), Michael Easton (John), Renee Elise Goldsberry (Evangeline), Trevor St. John (Todd), Bree Williamson (Jessica). 

But GH is something else. Where are Maurice Benard (Sonny), Ingo Rademacher (Jax), Rick Hearst (Ric), Steve Burton (Jason), Tamara Braun (Carly), Kelly Monaco (Sam)... for example? Itís odd Hearst and Braun arenít gonna be around. But hey, thereís NEmís Tyler Christopher (Nikolas) and Natalia Livingston (Emily), third wheel sidekick Greg Vaughan (Lucky), one-half of GQ (the male half) Scott Clifton (Dillon), with niece-or-maybe-not-niece Adrianne Leon (Brook Lynn), one-half of Casper Alicia Leigh Willis (Courtney), one-half of Rexis Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis), and leftovers Lesli Kay (Lois), Ted King (Alcazar). Granted the list is incomplete, with more actors to be added as the weeks close in on the final date, but still... I wouldnít blow hundreds of thousands of dollars on this.
Or for the Fast Pass System. The system, instituted last year, hasnít been much of a hit, forcing these fans to not only wait around in long lines out in the hot, blazing Florida sun all day, but to do so for only two pre-chosen soap stars. That is, if they can wait as long as two hours before anybody else. If not that, then brave the long lines to the talk show/interview portion of the two-day event for barely a glimpse above the maddening crowd. 

SSW is always another ABC Daytime marketing scheme, but this year, the event feels as if itís on its last legs, a last fatal gasp of behind-the-scenes public relations, designed solely to galvanize fans into falling for the next, great pre-ordained soap couples and soap stories, NEm! DilLyn! Kristina isnít Nedís, but neither is Brook Lynn! Lorenzo still has a chance with Carly! But not if Lois has anything to say about it! 
 

Keep Hope (Or Delusion) Alive 

Despite the paltry ratings, asinine stories, crap-tastically bad acting and Fronsí usual obfuscating pimping, most experts choose to stay on the side of hope.  

They know about the downward spiral of facts and figures, dollars and sense... a downward trend that obviously has the ABC Daytime executives doing anything and everything drastic to keep afloat: turning a one-week, cost-cutting measure this past summer into a one-week, self-contained murder mystery that did nothing to lure NBC soap fans over, but did a lot to further sink the alphabet network in a cesspool of incompetence, removing all traces of any character over 30, causing disgruntled veterans like Leslie Charleson (Monica, GH) and Jennifer Bassey (Marion, AMC) to sound the alarms. 

Usually a tactful team player, Charleson ceased beating around the bush in a recent SPW interview and flat-out said GH has become too mob-centered, sheís hardly used except to hold Emilyís hand, and the producers donít care anymore about ensuring their scenes are shot with the best of everybodyís abilities. Bassey figured, in her recent SOD interview, her character wonít be around for much longer, after on-screen daughter Liza splits, and hasnít really been anyway, mostly due to the age factor. ď... I think Disney wants to go in another way, which is young. I think anybody over 30 is in deep ca ca on daytime. I donít think Iím saying anything derogatory. This is the way all the networks are going. You can quote me on this: Soon, weíre going to live in a world where 5-year-olds are going to have to get their eyelids lifted because theyíre going to be too old.Ē 

... Unless youíre prone to occasional bouts of paranoia like me, and start talking yourself into believing if weíre all not careful, there wonít be a soon or a later, because soaps will have gone extinct, taken over by the next passing trend. 

Itís enough to already make me miss NEm. 

 

AMC 


Even little baby Ace canít stand
being anywhere near Bianca (far
right), much less in her arms. 
Babe seems to do much better
with the more affable MiraBess.
 

Whatís with the boobs already (9/30)? I swear Krystal mustíve spent at least 15 minutes of several scenes at Tadís house with her blouse in a state of half-undress, bosom spilling over. Needless to say, but Iíll say it anyway, because Iím just that sort of a bitch... I paid absolutely no attention to Tadís pestering and Krystalís lying, because I could not stop my mind from wandering down the Vivid Video path, Tadís mouth over Krystalís erect nipples, slowly working his tongue down... ahem, excuse me. 


This is where OLTLís Kevin (left)
 wishes the Pine Valley teens,
such as buttinsky Jamie here,
would go away.
 

Speaking of boobs... since Jonathan is just as much of one as Maggie has been for far too long on this show, they deserve each other. This week, I hear Jonathan has a little confession that has Maggie probably wanting to run for the nearest exit. I suspect it may be that he tried to off his own big brother Ryan, because he never got over being left behind for his father to continue to abuse. Eh, they deserve each other. Other fans online, btw, have finally started noticing Ė and bitching about Ė Maggieís pest factor, thus proving my trend-setting tendencies, er, at least sometimes, okay!, almost never, but still... 


Remember this stupid
smiling face. Itís
probably gonna be
Paulís last time
shuckiní and jiviní
 for extra cash.


Zach (the sexy bugger on the far left)
is the first to throw down the gauntlet,
in threatening Paulís (far right) life.
His son Ethan (middle) appears to be mulling
over whether to throttle the blackmailing
twerp himself.
 

Well, Fridayís (10/1) show was easy. Jonathan and Maggie licking each otherís ice cream ďtwo desserts in one,Ē yuck, FF. Ryan and Greenlee sucking face between their Zach bashing, puh-lease, FF. Oh look, thereís Zach, Ethan and Kendall and theyíre about to bash OLTLís Paulís head in, at least Zach and Kendall are. The more of Paul I see, the more a) I look forward to his upcoming murder, b) he resembles my real-life younger brother James, all the way up to turning belligerent on a dime even as heís getting through begging for credit from Zach, with money he doesnít have (heís trying to beg, borrow or steal thousands to pay R.J. off, remember). It took Bianca all of one minute to put OLTLís Kevin on the defensive, and insult the stranger over his politics. Kevin and ďBella,Ē btw, make a better pair than Babe with almost anyone else on AMC. But that wouldíve put head writers Megan McTavish and (just resigned on OLTL) Michael Malone in the hospital with nervous breakdowns trying to coordinate believable cross-over stories. 

...Not that theyíve already achieved the believable. 

 

OLTL 

This show in a nutshell, c/o Asa Buchanan: ďWho the hell is this guy?!Ē to Tico Santi, butting in on the rest of the Buchanans/Lords trying to have a story here, in the outskirts of the Heart Association gala, at the hotel bar. Maybe Asa can shoot up the entire mass of guests, save David and Dorian, and start over. And Antonio to Ticoís Got anything to say to me?: ďGet out of my way.Ē Amen. 

Leave it to David for the best lines of the September 27th episode. To Duke after he said heíd escort Adriana back home from the gala, ďWhen you walk Adriana to the door, you may kiss her good night, on the left cheek, or the right cheek, not on the mouth. A sophisticated system of video surveillance equipment will be recording your move from three different angles. Just a word to the wise...Ē To Kelly, after her (surprisingly effective and refreshingly different) hostile conversation with Kevin at the gala, ďNot so close, Kelly, Kevinís been known to vomit forth acid. Shall we [dance]?Ē 

From the brilliantly hilarious to the ridiculously contradictory and banal... Sonia and Antonio sitting around the Angel Square statue, she glances up at the graffiti on the statueís arm, comments, ďCall me old-fashioned, but defacing an angel is just...Ē Now that Sonia is considered a noble undercover INL agent and not a mob moll, Iím supposed to forget she practically blasphemed the angel upon her intro (same thunder storm practically threatening Godís retribution)? Then, Antonio interjects with, ďIíve been angry enough to do a lot worse, actually,Ē as if he felt he had to remind her (and everybody else) how dark heís become as Manuelito. Iíd just as soon believe heíd actually do worse than deface an angel as Iíd believe Jessica has more than two brain cells to rub together in that blonde bubble head of hers. 

Sonia and Antonio give in to a dispassionate kiss, he looking as if he might take a crap any minute, her with eyes glazed over, when their make-out session is soundly, loudly interrupted by a disgusted Natalie peeking through the wrought-iron gate. How refreshing to witness a third party doing anything but staring silently in growing secret horror. Natalieís dialogue writer, however, needs to bone up on synonym redundancy. Facing off with Antonio, summoning up the right words to convey her disapproval on behalf of her jilted sister Jess, ďItís dumb. Itís really stupid.Ē Um, dumb and stupid are the same things, duh. Surely the underpaid writing staff at OLTL can come up with better. 

Bo, on the other hand, perfectly described the problem with Asa shooting Todd in the dark and nicking him with a bullet, yet no proof in sight, after he and Nora barged in: ďYouíre sayiní that he [Todd] was shot, was bleeding, but somehow he managed to sneak out of here without a trace?Ē Yup. Asa replies that Manningís trying to make him look ďloco.Ē Well, the writers are trying to make the audience feel stupid, clueless and utterly without common sense. A severely injured Todd Manning gets up from the floor, picks up all the chocolates scattered on the floor upon impact, puts them away, grabs a pillow, holds it close to his chest, checking the floor for any bloody residue, cleaning it up, then hightailing out the back? Yup. 

Nice of Viki to finally show up, and as the galaís guest of honor no less, but in that matronly piece of shit?! Is she dressing for her own funeral? But how very bizarre (not really, itís OLTL, after all) of Viki to act non-plussed when Jess offhandedly whined about Antonio changing since he found out he was Puerto Rican mobster Manuel Santiís son. Oh yeah, someone informed Viki earlier, off-camera, preferred dramatic moment snuffed out before it could bear fruit. 

Sonia, the supposed expert in criminal minds, doesnít think to do more than ask Tico if he stepped out of the gala for a moment to make a call in disguise as El Tiburon to a captive Antonio earlier, doesnít even stop to consider that Tico could conceivably have made the call right in the middle of the ballroom where the gala was held, with a thousand witnesses (which he did). 


How can Jessica like this guy Tico,
much less let him touch her? Heís
(in back) smirking at his own motherís
funeral, for Godís sakes, right behind
Sonia, with her eyes glazed, and
Antonio, trying for dark and dangerous.
 

Tico Suave also found time to send his errand boy into procuring the most romantic room in the Palace Hotel for his lady love Jess, with which to propose. He then opens the door to said most romantic room in the hotel for Jess moments later, and itís just an ordinary hotel suite with awful green and white stripes on the walls and boring dark wood furniture, but a million candles and flowers. The guyís petulant, a skeev, and unimaginative. 

Someone explain what Manuelito meant when he summoned Jess earlier to the hotel bar to tell her, ďI need more time,Ē but not meaning, ďI need more time to get my head on straight and figure out who El Tiburon and El Lion are before I come back to you.Ē In a rare moment of simpatico, I, as well as Jess, also do not need this

Caught the symbolism in the directing of Natalie and John, returning to talk at Angel Square, she on one side of the wrought-iron fence, he on the other, as if by prison bars, as if trapped by their separate circumstances from reuniting. Le sigh. 

Almost forgot Blairís gala gown, rather, the latest attire on 42nd Street. The low-cut sequined number I mistook for a loud, garish Carol Burnett spoof pantsuit from the early Ď70s, except for the push-up boobs. 

Sorry, canít get into the Walsh family drama of Wednesday, September 29. Felt too much like an after-school special put on by the high school drama department, complete with Marcie holding her gay brother Ericís and her anti-gay father Ralphís hands, the little sister bridge, waterworks, pleas for peace, give me a break and give these characters a real family-based story with conflicts, relationships, a little conversation, a lotta character development and a beginning, middle and continuation. Otherwise, quit it. 

And, quit screaming at each other, will ya Jess & ĎTonio? What the hell are they yelling, wailing, gnashing their teeth about in that hotel room, anyway? I had to laugh when Jess almost buried her head in her hands, for fear it would explode from frustration and confusion, and told Antonio to start making sense. Exactly. EXACTLY. What in the Sam Hill is the problem, anyway? Antonioís on a secret mission to find El Tiburon and bring him to justice, end of story, there is no big bad dark Manuelito transformation in that case, which Jess only wants to be a part of. Again, these two are blowing up for no earthly reason that makes the most remote sense. 

Show of hands. Who wanted John and Natalie to play strip poker, instead of the emotional version? What? Iím the only one? Prurient deviance aside, I actually, legitimately felt sympathy for Evangeline when she walked in on them, walked out, and threw out her bottle of booze and two wine glasses. She really wants John, but canít bring herself to demand his commitment, free and clear of Natalieóa refreshing change of pace from the usual catty bitchfest on soaps. Natalie, in turn, also cannot bring herself to force the issue, asking in a near-whisper as John ran after Evangeline to explain, ďWhat are you doing, Natalie?,Ē then gracefully leaving. 

John is either falling in love or already there for Evangeline. Itís the first time I saw genuine emotion as his eyes teared up, almost like a little boy dying for validation as a man, begging Evangeline to give him a chance, to fight for them. I hope Evangeline saw it too, providing some comfort. I know the rumors are out there that the participating actors and TPTB are fed up with the fan-based wars over which couple belongs together and wanting to end the Jolie vs. JoVan competition altogether, but this particular September 30th episode did a lot toward helping me invest, in both women as equally valid choices for John, who stopped staring at his coffee cup or bottle of beer for a change and felt like a real man torn up about his past and yearning for a fresh new start. 

Jessica Buchanan, however, is another story. Did this dingbat learn nothing from Steven Haver, the convicted and killed himself serial-killing college professor last winter/spring?! Sheís repeating the same mistake in trusting and defending a violent loser like Tico. I want front-row seats when it is revealed that once again, Jess cannot be trusted to figure out what 2 + 2 equals, much less what a sociopathic sleazebag looks like. Iíd also like to hear what Jessís portrayer Bree Williamson has to say about this repeat of the dumb blonde act, how sheís gonna defend her character this time. 

I take it back about ĎTonio refusing to let Jess in on his case. Maybe he thinks sheís too stupid to help him. Soniaís not exactly impartial about Tico either. ĎTonioís better off alone or partnered up with John. 

I got the hives just watching the fey Tico try to romance Jess into saying yes to his marriage proposal. Between him and Paul Ė making Jess and Lindsay look like absolute fools and pathetically striving for hot, tough guy status Ė itís a wonder I donít have a bucket handy beside me to catch the bile fall-out. (Ticoís hiding another secret, methinks, one to do with his manhood.) 

Maybe itís simplistic of me, but couldnít Jess simply tell both Antonio and Tico to go away and concentrate on that all-fired career sheís always boasting about? 

 

GH 

I had about four episodes to catch up on on September 28. My back hurt, I was starving from only scarfing down breakfast and barely a lunch, my son had one screaming temper tantrum after another in between tearing up the house inside and out and the church I attend is, at present, pissing me off with its passive-aggressive behavior over an incident last weekend that resulted in what the childrenís leader referred to as a ďsuperficial scratch,Ē suggesting in so many pious, holy words that I should chill, wake up and smell the reality of parenthood. Needless to extrapolate, I was hardly in the mood for a few rounds of futile central. 

To calm down and feel semi-productive about my useless, worthless stay-at-home life, I continued crocheting an afghan for a friend (Mae-B, itís you!) while listening to SoapNetís replay recordings. It almost transported me back to my early high school years when I used to listen nightly to the AM radio, tuned in religiously to Mystery Theater and its many unfolding dramas, often of the horror variety. Major difference, Mystery Theater entertained me, the actorsí voices providing plenty for my imagination, full of emotion, conflict, short stories come to life. GH, however, provided its usual circle jerks, thin plot over character substance, abject veteran neglect, preferential treatment based on pretty images, acting out instead of acting. 


Cute Emily... dead Emily?
I wish.
 

Since I had no interest in looking up and staring at the faces of Emily, Nikolas, Sonny, Carly, Jason, Sam and their subjects... Since it wonít matter tomorrow or the next day what a rare interesting character does or says... Since hardly anybody in the cast is actually putting forth relevant, revelatory performances surpassing high school drama 101 writing... I didnít miss much. 

I had to look up and stare, drool dripping off the side of my mouth, when Jax opened his penthouse door wearing nothing but a towel around his dripping body, fresh from a shower, giving Courtney that look that Ingo Rademacher gives only to Brenda, where his eyes get all dusky and my nether regions get all moist... and Iím such a goner. 

And I had to look at Georgie in her black cocktail dress, the one she wore to Tracy and Helenaís ambush engagement party for NEm, because well, címon, the girl is a brick house, and sitting on Dillonís bed bare feet, those long, curvaceous, creamy legs unblemished by pimples, varicose veins or wrinkles? An old lady like me can dream I used to be that young once. 

Then, when Damien, I mean, little Michael ran down the stairs with a baby Tigger in his hand for Morgan, I croaked, ďHey! Thatís mine!Ē Eddie bought our son James the same Tigger as an infant, which mostly sits in the corner of his bedroom, untouched. James prefers the psychedelic Beany Bear his paternal grandparents gave him. 

Brook Lynnís nails... yuck... as long as Loisís. 

Otherwise, I finished about 10 afghan squares (only 90 more to go) and had a laugh during the last half hour of the September 28th episode when the replay recording went fritzy, skipping dialogue, mish-mashing voices to mouth movements and generally saving me 5 minutes of FFing. 

Overheard, but not seen: 

Jason has evolved, soap style. He now lies, controls lives and tells people, especially impressionable little children, what to do, how to behave and how to think. And he does it all for his boss, the man without whom Jason would be a common street thug randomly beating up passers-by glancing at him cross-eyed for sport (Sonny). Now, he does this for a hefty salary. 


Thatís what we all wanna see,
Prince Nikolas Cassadine
manhandling his own
grandmother, Helena.
 

Helena has a book of curses to use on her enemies and she only cracks open the book now over NEm? If the curses work so effectively, whatís Helena for, why does Helena bother even showing up to run Chloe over, resurrect Stavros, brainwash Lucky, etc.? Maybe thereís a special disclaimer in Helenaís book of curses that stipulates she can only curse one couple every 20 years, and only if Emilyís involved, I donít know. (Turns out the curse was just Helenaís red herring, while she personally runs around making NEmís life miserable. But still, they couldíve figured that out. ... Cut to an ABC Soaps in Depth article, Helenaís Constance Towers saying her character believes in the curse and spoilers saying NEm will find the curseís cure in a book of curses, and now, Iím totally lost. Is the damn curse real or not?!)

Carly dumbfounded me with her sociopathic devotion to criminals Corinthos and Morgan and her inadequate mothering techniques. How that woman can defend Sonny and Jason to Steven and John with a straight, but sneering, face is beyond me. I donít buy her soft, mushy, vulnerable act about wanting to believe in a father who cares for her, because Iíve seen her real side when people like Steven talk about right and wrong, good and bad. Itís reflexive, the snarling, growling pit bull pushing and shoving, biting and barking in blind defense of a mobster and his enforcer, without stopping once to consider that maybe her husband and best friend deserve the suspicion and the prison sentence. 

Then, Michael runs away for the millionth time (even after he swore for the millionth time never to do it again) to confront his grandfather John Durant in the hospital, mouthing off to the federal prosecutor like the spoiled brat Carly raised him to be. The picture of maternal horror, Carly tells Michael (I think. Remember, the recording went wonky on me at this part) not to talk back to his elders, like itís suddenly a new habit heís developed and totally out from left field, and she has absolutely no idea where he gets this habit from. 

If I were Michael, my parents wouldíve set me straight after the first manipulative attempt. That kid needs to go to military school where he can indulge fully in his anti-Christ tendencies and take over the world after throwing the nanny over the stairs and... spoiled control freak little brat. 

As Sonny and Jason discussed the John Durant problem and little Michaelís constant interference in keeping his mom Carly away from Durant on September 30, I couldnít help but wonder if Iíd landed in an alternate universe, stepping away from their earnest concern for a minute to face the facts. These two are criminals, with criminal acts on their shady resumes, and theyíre talking about dealing with Durant the hard way, little Michael meaning well but needing to stay out of it, and what if the boy overhears details of the mob-related goings-on, including hits ordered, a possible undercover federal investigation... like itís about going to a PTA meeting after school to discuss a bake sale. Yeah, Michael listens in. Yeah, itís important to keep the kid out of dangerous mob business. But will any of these geniuses ask Why this has to happen in the first place? Or, how about the utter implausibility of a kid, eight going on 18, blindly going after any enemy of his fatherís without questioning why they would in the first place? 

Itís official: the writers are gonna take Brook Lynn away from Ned. In the next few months, sheíll find out Ned isnít her biological father, thus, freeing her to consummate her soul-mate love for former uncle Dillon, as Georgie feared. At the hospital, Lucas talked to Georgie about Dillon and Brook Lynnís closeness. Theyíre uncle and niece, Georgie, Lucas said offhandedly, adding, with an ominous, hear comes the spoiler ... but if they werenít, they would so be soul mates. Btw, I donít accept Dillon wimping out before an injured Brook Lynn. He did nothing wrong. She just set back the cause of womenís liberation 50 years by embracing her sexuality when she swore she wasnít about that. 

Laugh of the day, but not in the way writers (or Sam herself) probably intended: ďI donít like being dependent on anyone,Ē Sam to Jason, while talking about her concerns over John Durant ruining all their lives. Jason reaching out to brush a stray hair (whatís with the Farrah Fawcett look?) from her face, emphasizing the eventual romantic pairing. Samís another one of those bimbos who doesnít listen to herself speak, as she says anything thatíll work at grinding the sympathy in her favor. She even threatened, in her woe-is-me bedroom voice, to walk... after Jax told her he caught Jason re-igniting flames with Courtney... under the auspices of being the noble one and letting Jason be free to pursue his romance. 

I could do a rant about self-serving, disingenuous Sam, who comes off (to me) as little more than a manipulative, using slut with horrid fashion sense, but Iím spent from all the soaps within soaps going on in my real life. Maybe next week. Besides, she redeemed herself somewhat by Friday, thanks to Jason and a nagging little ole lady on a Christian right-wing tear (see further down below).

Jaxís new apartment... did the Port Charles Hotel get re-built? His new digs look like his old digs, pre-flames.

Carlyís always dressed like sheís headed to Studio 54.

Sure, thatís what Iíd do if I lost track of Luke Spencer, go online and go into one of a billion chatrooms. ::eyeroll:: 

Most of GHís characters remind me of those toys, the Weebles, Weebles wobble but they donít fall down, especially NEm. Itís quite telling that the writers are unable or unwilling to tell a story about these two as individuals and as a couple, without turning the whole thing into a big Looney Tunes cartoon with falling anvils and assorted other Acme-bought devices to trap the innocent, good, not so helpless Tweety Bird or Road Runner. IMHO, the reason itís a cartoon and not a relationships-based story, is because the actors cannot deliver more than a cute image and barely passable reaction to external forces against them, apart or together. Beneath their pretty veneer is nothing of interest to write about, no reference to family and friends, no use for family and friends, no hobbies or careers, nothing but each other, dressed up and nowhere to be. 

Helenaís curse reaffirms everything GH in particular is doing wrong, in order to attract attention and spike ratings, for the short-term. It allows the main actors to coast on their looks, looking good together. It humiliates the over-30 veterans involved, Tracy, Helena, Edward. It keeps the youth-demo symbol of beauty and sex appeal up front on the stage without too much backstory work. It continues to reduce relatable drama into far-fetched Saturday morning cartoons, with characters wielding little motivation outside getting the hero and heroine just standing there, looking peeved or put upon. It completely destroys the very foundation of soap operas, and defaults into a nebulous new, temporary genre altogether. And, of course, it pisses me off to no end. 

In the ultimate lie, in the middle of this unbelievable farce, Tracy utters aloud (10/1): ďThis curse of Helenaís is becoming more believable by the moment.Ē It is?! Just Ďcause Tracy said this, doesnít mean itís so, just that Tracyís being dragged into the black hole known as NEm and itís affecting her reasoning capacity. Her dangerous bitch rep is also seriously being threatened, wasted on NEm. 

I donít even know if this curse is genuine or a hoax perpetrated by Helena herself. I donít even think she knows. The actress, Constance Towers, is certainly (unintentional, of course) contradicting what she knows about the plot device and what appears on my TV screen. Maybe itíll turn out that, despite Helenaís machinations to make the curse real, it really is. 

Hereís a better suggestion: Letís all collectively ignore NEm. Maybe then, theyíll go away. They certainly donít need any of us, or any of the other characters on the canvas, to validate their syrupy sweet love. Or, in the dead-on exchange between Tracy (portrayed by Jane Elliot, a real actress) and Emily:

Emily says, ďThere is no curse. Thereís just Nikolas and me in love and devoted to each other.Ē

Tracy, in a stunning black and fur ensemble that cut decades off her, reels back, in mocking mode, ďOh, Iím sorry. I think Iím going into sugar shock.Ē 


ďThere is no curse. Thereís
justóď  Aw, shaddup!
 

This is right before the pastor Ė to marry NEm in a quickie ceremony at Wyndemere Ė pretends to drop dead during the service. At the time, nobody knows that, so their reactions should be shock and grief, I donít give a damn if heís a stranger. Iíd be a basket case if that happened to me. But that would cut into the cartoonís fast-paced momentum and the reveal of Helena peeking from a partially open bookcase, Nikolas dragging his own grandmother roughly out into the open, Helena gruffly telling the pastor to get up. Now, TPTB donít even wait until the end of the week or episode for the cliffhanger payback, itís happening within two scenes of the same show. 

John Durant describes a little from his family tree to Carly in front of Kellyís. I donít know and I donít care if heís making it all up as he goes along (hell, the photo of his mother Rachel, an exact duplicate of Carly playing dress-up, couldíve been faked), the makings of a better story lay in his tale, the tale of an ambitious woman who became a lawyer, then a judge, prosecuting criminals to the fullest extent of the law, encouraging her son to do the same, and one morning, over breakfast, about 16 years ago, being gunned down by the mob she helped put away for life, witnessed by an impressionable young man who changed his public defender position right then and there, vowing for revenge on every mobster in the world. Instead of sitting there debating internally as to whether Durantís on the level or after her mobster husband Sonny, Carly should be asking why sheís in this controlling, dysfunctional farce of a marriage (and consorting with criminals), why she continues to make excuses for these criminals, why sheís failed in every endeavor she tries, from nursing and running a cosmetics company, to managing a bar below Kellyís, why she hasnít tried to aim higher for herself and look into a career her father would be proud of, whereís her soul? 

But no. Sonny shows up like a bad hair piece. Carly excuses herself inside Kellyís like the dutiful slave she really is. And Sonny lectures to John about duplicity, fatherly devotion. John challenges Sonny on whether heíd walk away from his children. Sonny then threatens Godís smiting by issuing the biggest lie of his life, ďIf itís best for the child...Ē 


Like a pimple on the face of my
rotting buttocks, Sonny (standing)
interrupts a warm family moment
between Carly and her new-found
father, John Durantóto make it
all about Sonny.
 

Not everything sucked. Surprise, surprise, I melted a little for Jason and Sam. I did not appreciate using a kindly-looking , elderly black lady as a means for their cozying up, but...  what Jason did for Sam after that mean ole bat lectured her about getting knocked up without a father, rushing over, loudly fabricating a story about her forgetting the wedding ring, her slowly playing along, saying it must be on the kitchen sink, both pretending to be the idyllic, Republican mother and father expecting their planned firstborn, Jasonís face clearly in love, Samís first genuine expression of unconditional gratitude... that was about the nicest gesture Iíd ever witnessed from one person for another, on- or off-screen. Itís amazing what a little character-driven, relationship-based scene between two flawed but well-meaning people can do, in truly affecting not just an outcome but each otherís perceptions, right before my eyes... which meant more because it came from a man not given to compromising his inflexible principles. (NEm would do well to emulate these acts of kindness.) 


Hey, I know! Letís get a little old lady
and have her lecture Sam about being an
unwed mother-to-be to summon up audience
sympathy!


This is why I can never hate Jason
for long. Just look at the poor
sap, falliní hard.


Happy now, lady? Jason and Sam
pretend to be the picture of
(conservative Republican-approved)
loveóor ... are they pretending?


Uh oh, I think itís the real
thing, folks.
 

Over at CBSís ATWT, Sarah Brownís Julia (not the psycho Julia) is repeating the very behavior of a one Mary Bishop, portrayed by Catherine Wadkins not so long ago, covering up the fact that her new husband really belongs to another woman, a woman with two children. Not only are soaps stealing each otherís actors, but the stories too. But in ATWTís case, all the actors involved, including the two children, can actually act. 

Those primetime actors pimping the stories on ABCís daytime soaps are really annoying me. I know and they know this is homework, and they donít really care what the heck happens on these stupid soaps. Those dildos from Complete Savages didnít give a fuck up my ass master about Sonny and Jasonís mob affectations or whatever, they were simply there to say their lines, act like complete savages so youíll watch their new primetime sitcom, collect their paycheck and leave. I save a little time FFing through that complete waste. 

SoapNetís new reality-TV show, I Wanna Be A Soap Star, should be great for a coupla unintended laughs and general mockery value. These amateurs actually believe they each have a shot at making it in daytime. I know daytimeís desperate for pretty faces at zero-to-little cost, but thereís no way in hell any of these grandstanding vultures are gonna stick around past their three-month fame, or beyond the short 13-week publicity stint on GH. I personally want nothing to do with a wannabe who openly admits to being a bitch or who does everything but hold his hard-on in his hands for a fluffer. Thatís all Iíd be thinking about if one of Ďem won a long-term part, how immaturely they acted trying to make it in the first place. At least with the professional and amateur casts already in place on most of these soaps, there is the appearance of propriety, decency and class. 

Sage reported last Monday that TPTB in all their great stupidity will resurrect Connor Bishop as the back-from-the-dead character, not Stavros, not Stefan, not Mary. Mary would be better. Everybodyís talking about her long-lost twin come to exact vengeance upon NEm and Lorenzo for the murder of her other twin. Thatís fine, too. But Connor? I can see it now. Connor, as played by Tyler Christopher in a dual role also as Nikolas, takes one look at the lovely Emily, falls madly in love and another triangle set-up ensues, possibly with an Emmy nomination for Christopher for his riveting, challenging, complex attempt at two different characters. Catherine Wadkins is the better choice, for one or 50 roles, and she would convey true difference in every one. 

Iím tired of proofing 14-20 pages in channeling every Monday morning on an empty stomach (thatís 10 trips to the bathroom in two hours). Maybe next week, Iíll stick to one subject for all three soaps. Maybe write the stories for them. That should take up about four pages, tops.

 

GRAPHICS BY SCOTT BILSTAD