Chaos Attraction

The Understudy Takes Over

2020-12-12, 7:57 p.m.

After I had to post for Holidailies for the day to make the deadline, I watched the “Mental Health Comedy Happy Hour” show out of Santa Cruz but now online on Friday night. I watched this several months ago and here we are again. It’s put on by Kristee and Wonder Dave (I like me some Wonder Dave) and I think Kristee did most of this same routine about quarantine months ago, except she now has even more stick ‘n poke tattoos, on hands and face.

Wonder Dave: Utah has the most mental health issues for people under 17. Suspicious?

After that, they had a few more comedians on, one of whom said, “I had my most recent panic attack in January. I’ll let you know when it’s over....I was having a bad 2020 before everyone else, I’m a trendsetter.”

Beyond that, I don’t know what happened because Jackie called, said it was going to be 10 minutes and it was more like 20....she is cleaning out her mother’s hoarder house to sell it and sent me a photo of the dishwasher utterly filled with trash. ‘Nuff said to that, eh? The irony was not lost upon me, and of course I shared that in the chat. She also asked about my “fake boyfriend” and when I said he wasn’t talking much, said “His house burned down in a fire.”

And she got off the phone just in time for me to hear Wonder Dave, who talked about how he used to work in event planning--”I was the guy with the earpiece and a roll of tape”-- and then obviously was out of work now. Then he finally got offered a job that uses his a Covid testing site.

“I say get yourself a little pan-dem-thick.”
“My skills at running a music festival have qualified me to be a medical professional.”
“I am constantly filled with murderous rage. I just hold it all in.”
“In the pandemic, I am a little obsessed with murder, I admit it. I’m watching a lot of true crime documentaries.” He said he has gender bias: if a man murdered a woman, he’s a piece of shit. But if it’s the woman who murdered the man, what did he do?

Another not doing much day in quarantine. Well, at least I didn't have to work! (And in a week I'm off for two weeks!) I slept in, walked around the house, made the Saturday omelet and added bacon to the mix. I watched an online lecture on "developing your natural gifts" which primarily talked about visual vs. auditory vs. kinesthetic learning. I did that kind of stuff in middle school (I'm not sure why my middle school was hippie enough to be into that stuff, but it was), so I already know that I'm visual/kinesthetic, though after looking at an online test during this thing I realized that I do all three methods while teaching. No wonder my students do so well :P Though here's a weird thing: this was talking about which clair-whatevers you're naturally best at and supposedly, you should be good at whatever you're naturally good at. I'm a visual learner but I don't have vision-y things or psychic dreams happen to me--well, almost never. (Last night's dream: I was hanging out at the Red Lion Inn and they apparently have a great restaurant for people with food allergies. Dreams are so effing stupid.) On the other hand, I am absolutely awful at learning from people talking, the words don't stick in my head--this is why I take a lot of notes and quotes, and I score very low on auditory learning--but have had clairaudient experiences. I actually didn't realize for a long time that was what was going on because who doesn't get songs stuck in their head or have random ones pop up, and if some voice in your head says to tell someone you love them, big deal? I asked if that was A Thing and the guys teaching it were all "yeah, that happens."

Since I can't really do anything much different (i.e. go anywhere, and I seriously kind of want to smack people who have said to me in all seriousness, "So where are you going to go this year on vacation?" and then they realized oh wait, NOBODY CAN GO ANYWHERE), I am plotting a schedule of things to work on during break. Do a writing project every day except for the actual "holidays." Try to work on an unfinished object project--I have about four around the house. And work on that patchwork cardigan to finish it by the end of vacation. Anyway, to that end I finally found where one of them was, a sweater I designed years ago that has a cape attached to it, and I wanted to put butterfly appliques on it. I did a LOT Of spinning my own yarn trying to replicate blue morpho butterflies, but I wasn't at all happy with how the appliques were coming out, so I didn't finish it. I finally found that project today and I figure I can use the leftover yarn in the patchwork sweater project. I just probably need to scrap what appliques I've got and start all over because lord, they look bad.

This weekend's "The Shows Must Go On!" (musical or other show only online for 48 hours, British time) Ruthless. I have been pretty bored with the last few they've had up since they didn't have much plot and couldn't even finish them. Seriously, I need some plot in with nothing but dancing. But this one... OH, IT HAS PLOT!

It's got one of those showbiz kids (Tina) and her mother (Judy, who has to tell her kid to call her mother), and Sylvia the manager. I'll note that "you just saw your daddy six weeks ago!" "That was Daddy?" "I think so." Sylvia's resentful that she had a kid that had no talent. "I'm your Auntie Mame, your Mama Rose." FORESHADOWING! (Apparently this is a parody of all stage momma shows.)

"Pippi in Tahiti, The Musical" is going to be the school play. Tina yells, "ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!!" when Louise gets the part. Tina got cast as....the dog. The teacher hates teaching third grade and obviously had to settle for her career and substance abuse. "Something To Fall Back On" is the song. I feel ya, girl. "Life's a bitch and it starts in third grade." Sylvia suggests letting Tina be the understudy, and once someone explains the concept of taking out the lead...I'LL DO IT!

It's ironic that Judy has to sing "I can't sing a note," though uh, obviously she is in a musical. Judy's mother is a theater critic, Lina Encore, who wrote a book called "Ruthless: The Life of Ruth Del Marco." Ruth killed herself after a bad review. Judy thinks theater people are doomed. "But that's show business," Sylvia says.

Why was Louise cast? She can't act. Or spell Pippy. Tina's "oh, bitch, PLEASE" look at this is justified. Ah, her parents "bought it for her." Louise doesn't even WANT to be in it, but it makes her parents happy. "I asked POLITELY," Tina says, and then gets fatal. "Even I wouldn't pay to see this," says the director. Oh, look, someone "accidentally hung herself with a jump rope." ON HER BIRTHDAY.

Tina comes home and Mom tries to talk to her: "Sometimes bad things happen that can make us very sad." "I know. We didn't even have our lunch." "If you'd want to stop smiling, I'd understand...." "Why should I be crying? I didn't get killed." The director, Miss Thorne, comes over. "The children were just playing a game. They got a little excited. One of them got killed. I suspect nothing." Anyway, she gives no fucks on Louise's death, Tina better be ready! Judy finds the wig and confronts Tina. "Knock it off, Tina, you're not that good!" Judy snaps. UH-OH. Tina blames the murder on not having lunch.

Judy's mother walks in. "Tina's being punished." "What did she do, kill somebody?" Judy's mother also dislikes musicals and has a great song about how she hates musicals. "Gangs don't look tough when they turn and they snap." Well, yes. "Wouldn't you just love to slap Maria von Trapp? How do you solve a problem like Maria? Rolf, she's over there!" Also, she hates this song! Judy decides that Tina isn't allowed to be in show business. I think we need to take bets at what point in the musical Tina murders her own mother if she does that. Sylvia is all, don't YOU want to be a star, Judy? "I am deliriously happy living an ordinary, boring life." NOPE.

Ruth Del Marco might be alive! They never did find her body!

So just checking: Sylvia is Ruth, Judy is her talentless daughter? "I knew God would punish me for panning Fiddler." Then Lita blabs the truth. Judy is horrified that this is where Tina's talent and drive comes from. Lita found the kid after Ruth disappeared. I'm amused at Judy's frozen shocked catatonic face on the couch while Sylvia sings about her mommy dying. Then Judy snaps and BECOMES A PERFORMER.

Act 2: Judy turned in Tina for murder, Sylvia did the defense. Maybe that was a mistake, thinks Judy. Tina is sent to a school for psychopathic ingenues, while "Ginger Del Marco" (Judy) is now a star. Four years and two Tony Awards Ginger. And her suspicious assistant Eve (of course).

"I was so angry with you! Now there's a few actresses I'd like to hang with a jump rope!" says Ginger when Tina gets out of jail. They basically go to song war. "Your mother is so proud of you," snaps Sylvia, GUESS WHO SHE IS. Yup. Confirmed, wig snapped off, everything. Ruth got picked up by a cruise ship, changed her name, and started a new career. They all celebrate their ruthlessness. Eve, Lita, and the teacher all show up for the last number. "We're not in this scene," they say and leave. Of course Eve is really....Louise's mother! "ACT ONE!" she has to remind them. "Oh, the dead girl."

She's got a gun. Oops, somehow Eve shot herself and Tina's got a gun. "Back off Granny, I've killed before!" The gun goes off, Ruth does one more number with the gun before dropping dead. Oh wait, she shoots Lita on the way out. Ginger snaps back to being Judy. "I think we've learned a lesson here, Tina," to give up show business. Tina shoots her mother and yells, "I'm getting a series!" and then shoots anyone else, including her teacher (shows up because well, who's left.) "I can call the shots because I've got TALENT," she yells. Frederick, the missing daddy, yells from offstage and is shot too. Hollywood, here I come! Tina shoots the audience.

Welp, that was certainly fucked up, but it wasn't dull! So cheers to Britain for putting something on with a plot this week!

Back to Hallmark:

A Nutcracker Christmas:
This starts out with a lot of narration by Amy Acker (Lily) and wanting to be a ballerina all her life. This one has Actual Ballet Dancers (Sascha Radetsky being The Guy, I see). Finally we get to her mingling with The Guy at a party. Mark just broke up with his dance partner, he used to be a football player, he thought he'd go into the military but did ballet instead. Aw, cute. She doesn't get Sugar Plum, but "Mark and I were happy." Oh, wait, she got it! .... And then there was an accident. Her sister and brother-in-law died, leaving behind her niece. Lily insists on dancing, Mark points out that she is likely to hurt herself dancing with the level of distraught she has going on, so the understudy is called in. Lily feels betrayed. OH THIS IS SO SAD. She quit Mark and ballet, apparently.
Fast forward: Lily teaches yoga and sends Sadie to ballet school. Lily politely refuses to dance with the kids ("I don't dance any more" ) and Sadie is ticked. Then Sadie gets cast in The Nutcracker as Clara...

There's a sign that says, "The Nut Cracks in 27 Days." Bwahahahaha. OH LOOK IT'S MARK. They look shocked. Lily tries to avoid the shit out of him, but good luck with that. I enjoy Sadie giving her crap about the whole thing, such as claiming they have to go feed a nonexistent dog. Lily gets forced into Ballet Mom Coffee Talk time. Lily isn't LYING, she's "being selective about what I share," i.e. refusing to tell people she danced even though frankly, it seems obvious to everyone. (Also, Mark did a tour in the military for awhile.) Especially when she makes Sad Face watching dancers or trying to do it herself.

Mark finds them tree shopping and makes horrible puns. He talks her into attempting to assist with a pissy ballerina, it does not go well, girl hurts her ankle, and when she disses a "dance mom," Mark blabs that Lily used to dance in NYC back in the the dance moms hear it all. See, Lily, this is why we don't tell lies. Also, duh, they found pictures of them together on the Internet and one of the dance moms is saying Mark gave Sadie the role because he's biased. Mark reiterates that he had no idea Sadie was her niece and probably wouldn't have chosen her had he known. "I didn't do anything but love you." Awwww. Amy Acker just plays Lily as a walking raw nerve. He apologizes. She realizes she could have hurt herself like that girl did yesterday while in a rage. OH AND THAT GIRL JUST QUIT, too.

Just as Lily is politely telling off that ballet mom and getting an apology, an ambulance pulls up for the remaining Sugar Plum. Mark asks her to be Sugar Plum. Much as I hate to mention plausibility in a Hallmark movie--Sadie literally laughs when she hears it herself--while Lily is clearly in at least yoga shape, she hasn't danced in 8 years, and there are a shit ton of dancers hanging around the building WHO ARE GONNA BE SUPER PISSED TO NOT GET A SHOT AT SUGAR PLUM, JUST SAYING. Hell, Lily herself might have been mad once upon a time. This is why I'm wishing they hadn't made such a big deal about Lily Utterly Quitting Ballet. She could just be running a ballet studio or something, for fuck's sake. (I will note that Pissy Ballet Mom plans to complain to the board, big time.)

An hour 30 in and they are kissing in the street after salsa dancing! Score!
You know what, I'm gonna strongly suspect that since we've had one dancer quit and another get injured and now the lead guy is getting huffy at Lily, something's going to take him out too. Watching this movie after watching Ruthless, in which one girl takes out someone else so she can do the part, is pretty amusing. They're dropping like flies in this movie!
Lily asked Mark over for Christmas. "I was thinking of making my traditional shepherd's pie." Mom: "Only if you're trying to get rid of him. THAT'S WHAT I THOUGHT!!!
Then Juliet comes back like everything's fine the day before the show. Mark rips her a new one for being a jerk, and Darren is all "If she goes, I go." (I should note that Mark said they are an off-and-on couple) CALLED IT.
Mark just saw a sign: a "come fall in love" Philly ad on a taxi, which tells him where to find Lily, who stomped off in a huff. He offers her a future here together. Awwwww. "Let's get it right." Also, "if I cancel the show, I'll never direct again." OBVIOUSLY MARK IS GONNA DO IT. Let me just comment on something: wouldn't there be understudies for everybody major? Yes, it's plausible to lose Sugar Plum and her understudy, but they were so short on dudes there isn't an understudy for the Prince? You couldn't just get someone playing a soldier or mouse to understudy?

Show's on! I do like that they are actually showing a lot of Nutcracker in this. Good job, Sadie. Also, wow, the snitty ballet mom has totally converted into being a fan of Sadie and Lily. I get her loving how Sadie danced, but wanting Lily to stay on? Where did this come from? She hasn't even been onstage yet.

Much like Dirty Dancing, we are having lift issues. Was that how it was supposed to go? Eh...just going with it. It seems a little awkward, but it should, you know?
*applauds* I love Amy Acker. Sascha is a sweetie. Sadie is fun. I like this one, though it is heavy on the angst and some ah, plausibility of last minute step-ins.

Christmas List: Alicia Witt movie!
Once upon a time, there was a mom who wanted everything white and boring and disappointed her redheaded daughter. That girl has A List of stuff, like a "real tree." This is pretty much just like something I read on the Hootenanny of Holiday Horrors yesterday. (Go read it, it's hilarious.)
Fast forward a few decades later or whatever and That Tree She Hates is still around, because Mom is housesitting for the holidays. "That's what I get for spending my entire life in San Diego," Isabelle complains, after jumping around in a giant snow globe and getting her picture taken.

Isabelle and Jamie fight over a Christmas tree. "I picked out this Christmas tree 25 years ago." "Yes, that is hard to believe." "See, I'm from California--" Other lady watching this: "Jamie, give her the tree." As a native born Californian who never saw a white Christmas until she was 30, I roll my eyes so hard at this. Even in San Diego, PEOPLE STILL BUY CHRISTMAS TREES.

On the super iffiness of Isabelle's boyfriend showing up: "Is he Santa Claus?" Bwahahahah.

As far as I can tell, Isabelle feels deprived because she lives in San Diego and is now ...wherever she is with snow, whatever. Also because her mom was literally the one in the Hootenanny link. She' old now that she can finally do her own Christmas thing? I just feel like I need a more compelling reason for why This Is The Year for Christmas bucket list. Like she's Jewish, or she's having Amish rumspringa, or she survived a bout with cancer, or she recently left a nunnery. It seems very odd that somehow, even with a picky mom, she feels like she's missed out on all the Christmas stereotypes.

Anyway, boyfriend calls, while the hottie is unloading her tree and logs and stuff. Jealousy ensues. Well, that's on you for working during the holidays, brah. Don't leave a hot redhead alone at Christmas. Things will happen. (This link is a great commentary on Christmas movie cheating.)

....Yeah, the entire fire department with truck probably won't show up just because you set off the fire alarm. My neighbor did that the other night and the only person she had to call was the manager. "You don't need the fire department, ma'am," says a firefighter...named Scotty, sigh. Oh yeah, Hottie is also a firefighter. "The fireman is going to take you to the hospital?" "NO, to a GINGERBREAD CONTEST." Where the houses are premade, thank god.

This is the third movie where an architect--or in this case, someone who owns a construction company--tells someone how to make a gingerbread house. She came in seventh out of seven contestants...and I think she was the only adult? After they ride a carousel, he offers to take her out on a date, and by date I mean "consolation prize" for lunch.

Isabelle's mom just showed up. To find Isabella passed out under the tree, and the kitchen on fire, and she hasn't even bitched about the tree yet. "Why did he leave you under the tree like a Christmas package?" is a legitimate question. "Is that a REAL tree? Isabelle! And the lights are all bunched up." Mom also gives her shit for her lack of boyfriend and a bucket list. You know what, I'm feeling sorry for Isabelle. "Your own gingerbread. Do you HEAR how that SOUNDS?" Isabelle drags her mom to a children's pageant, which magically converts her mother into liking the town. "You've lost your mind," she says, though.

Isabelle wants the "White Christmas" happy ending, for the record. Somehow Jamie has never seen it. 54 minutes in, Jamie kisses her and she freaks out. Girl, you've been on several dates with this guy AND you admit that you aren't too sure about your boss/boyfriend and wanted to try actually spending quality time with him (which still isn't happening) to see if you liked him all that much. Sure, it's totally Christmas Cheating (see the link above) but at this point, it should not be 100% of a shock here.

Jamie finds Isabelle's list. "Are you okay?!" "It's not that kind of bucket list. Why does nobody get that?" Uh, because most people don't make that list without the motivation of death? "Christmas has a life of its own. Things just work out." "Christmas has never worked out for me," she snaps. She looks like she is about to cry. And then she comes home to find her mother fixing the lights. Isabelle is all FUCK THIS, I'M OUT, I'M PACKING RIGHT NOW TO GO HIT A BEACH. Her mother is all "we need to talk" and next thing you know they are having cocoa outside in the snow by a fire. "The drive for perfection is mine, not yours," Mom says, feeling bad. Suddenly she has converted to the gospel of imperfection? Did the woman just snap or get possessed or something? She, of all people, is saying don't worry about the less than perfect lights? Isabelle agrees to stay and her mother agrees to leave.

So Isabelle goes to the toy shop to find Jamie (it's his mom's business) and some kid comes in and is disappointed that Santa's not here. Next thing you know Jamie is playing Santa and Isabelle is the elf. For a moment I thought she was going to go be Santa again herself, so disappointed there. (Note: this movie takes place 2 years after that one.) "How many opportunities am I going to have to get my picture taken with Santa?" Um, when there's not a pandemic, I'm sure you can find plenty of opportunities. Even during a pandemic, people are somehow managing this, albeit not on laps. Hell, I have a picture with my mom and me and Santa because she is into that.

"This one plays the accordion and he's been practicing the Twelve Days of Christmas." "Don't encourage him."

Aw, he gave her a charm bracelet and she got him nothing! (Second charm bracelet I've seen, second time of "You got me something and I got you nothing!" I feel your pain.) I like the question mark charm for "your Christmas wish." Oh, wait, her boyfriend's actually showing up. Awkward! Brett has decked the halls and Jamie is hanging around and awkwardness continues! Brett disses how the town has nothing to do but watch the one stoplight change and Jamie is all "The library got one new book last month. Pandemonium!" "It was interesting meeting you," Brett says. Right now this moment is A Very Merry Mix-Up with "I clearly miss hanging out with your family and now I am stuck with...this guy."

Even when the boyfriend is in town, he still can't show up for Isabelle. I can't wait for the inevitable breakup speech and I hope she says that she just never spends enough time with him to know if she wants to spend more time with him. "Thanks for setting this up, guy. Can you put these in some water for us?" Brett says. I feel like in the Love Languages here, she wants Quality Time and he just likes Gifts because he can throw money at the problem. Then they go out to lunch, and seriously, Brett orders a meal like Sally Albright and the LOOK ON HER FACE. (Have they never ever been out to eat together? How is this news to her?) He says stuff like "what can they do to turkey, right?" and "I don't have to tell you no bread or butter, right?" "No, you don't."

"How long until we get the rest of this list done and then relax?" We can just forget it, says Isabelle. He then shames her for her gingerbread house--"what were you thinking?" Can I just bitchslap him? He REALLY wants to go home and she caves in. "Fall River's a nice little town, but it's not for us." Jame is all "That guy's not right for you," and Isabelle is all offended and "How would you know?!" and I'm like, 'cause he's kind of a jerk?!?! "Who would pass up the opportunity to spend a week alone with you?" Jamie says, and kisses her, and she is going for it right back for a few seconds. You know what, I totally agree: dude is NOT that into you, fuck him. WHEN IS THE CHRISTMAS DUMPING ALREADY? Jamie leaves.

Brett doesn't like getting a red "woodsy" shirt, but he at least tries to be polite about it. Her present is a private plane to take us home TODAY. "You know it's Christmas Eve, right? I was hoping we could have a chance to spend some time together...." GOOD LORD, JUST LEAVE HIM ALREADY. Isabelle leaves Brett and his phone and his work emergencies to go see Jamie again. She still goes back to Brett and the airport. "Hey, Brett. Did you have any fun?" "Sure, I did." "Like what?" "Like the skating. That was great." She's giving him The Look. "I will be with you as long as these figures keep adding up." This is her Fuckit Point, and she picks up her shit and goes to Jamie's to carol. Let's go work on that secret Christmas wish...

Well, I always like Alicia Witt and the guy who plays Jamie is fun and charming. The premise is a bit off, the mom...triggered my own issues, and Brett needs a Christmas bucket of water over the head. That is all.

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