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Why Can’t We Be Friends? March 6, 2011

Posted by alwaysjan in Food for Thought.
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How could I have missed Jimmy Kimmel’s call to make Nov. 17 National UnFriend Day on Facebook?  Oh that’s right, I was in the middle of Parent-Teacher Conferences. That’s two weeks when I’m looking to bring people on board, not cull the herd. But last night after a few glasses of red wine, I started deleting some of my “friends.”

So far no gunshots have been fired at my house, but most of those I “unfriended” (is that the correct nettiquette?) don’t even know where I live. That tells you something right there.

Like many people, I signed onto Facebook early on when it was literally the new kid on the block.  The “friending” began. I wrote about the downside of this in Being Facebook Friends with Stephan Pastis – Rats!

Fast forward four years. It occurred to me that I wouldn’t recognize some of my “friends” on the street. That’s not good. I’d even stooped to hiding others, so I didn’t have to read incessant updates about every aspect of their life. (Jimmy Kimmel provides a great example of this.) Hiding may be a kinder way since the “friend” doesn’t know that you’ve exiled them to Never Again Land, but isn’t honesty usually the best policy? Was that a gunshot I just heard?

Then there were those “friends” who were coerced by some well-intentioned technophile into joining Facebook in the first place. Left to their own devices, they couldn’t figure out how to post their picture or a status update. I think most have forgotten their passwords and haven’t revisited Facebook since I hit the Accept button. They’re in the slow lane on the information highway with their turn signal on – but can’t figure out how to exit. I like to think that by “unfriending” them, I’m just helping speed up the process.

Here’s my new and improved criteria for a mutually beneficial “friendship.”

1)  I would recognize you if I saw you on the street
2)  We’ve shared a significant life experience (Think “trauma bonding”)
3)  You’ve commented on one of my status updates or blog.
4)  You can make me laugh.
5)  We share some DNA, so you are potentially an organ donor.

Actually, my son just informed me that he “unfriends” people almost weekly, and it’s no big deal. It’s not like Mark Zuckerberg shows up at their door with the pink slip. Come to think of it, some of those I planned to “unfriend” weren’t even on my  list of “friends.” Could it be that they “unfriended” me first and I didn’t even notice? Sweet!

Jonathan Winters LOL April 7, 2009

Posted by alwaysjan in TV/Film.
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For the last four years, my husband, Richard, has been working on a film about the legendary comedian Jonathan Winters.  This has been one interesting ride.  While Richard schmoozes with Sarah Silverman and Jimmy Kimmel, I’m at school on yard duty and confiscating Hot Cheetos.  

Sometimes I do get lucky though and come home to find leftovers from one of Richard’s infamous lunches with Jonathan at Piatti’s in Montecito.   Then I get to forgo Lean Cuisine for a day and chow down on Pappardelle or Pollo Parmigiana.  I also settle for leftover stories about the day’s shoot.  After a long day in the trenches of public education, I can use a good laugh.

I grew up eagerly anticipating The Jonathan Winters Show.  He was the real deal – a total original.  Hand him something – anything, and he could do a shtick with it, and a damn funny one at that. 

Through a chance meeting in Santa Barbara, Richard and his partner, Jim, met Jonathan, who is also an accomplished artist.  What started out as a documentary about Jonathan and his art, evolved into a “mockumentary” with a supporting cast of some of the funniest people I know.  But then I think Ryan Stiles (from The Drew Carey Show) is a poker-faced scene stealer.  

Certifiably Jonathan includes clips of Jonathan’s original comedy routines from his show and from The Jack Paar Show.  I still laugh every time I watch these. You could call it a “heist movie,” as the plot hinges on Jonathan having his sense of humor stolen.  A stellar cast tries to cajole Jonathan and advise him on how to go about regaining one’s sense of humor.  If nothing else, it’s a film for the times we live in.

When I finally met Jonathan, he was wandering though my house wearing a cavalry hat and looked a bit like a long-lost Kamikaze.  The title of the film. Certifiably Jonathan, was inspired by Jonathan’s commitment in a mental institution.  Jonathan, who is bipolar, is candid about how his childhood and this disorder have shaped him as a human, and ultimately as a comedian. They always say that all comedy springs from a dark place, and Jonathan’s been there, done that.  Yet he still has that twinkle in his eye.

It was while making the film that we met Nora Dunn (SNL, Entourage) and her brother Kevin Dunn (Transformers, Samantha Who), people I now count as friends and are way fun to hang with.

What amazed me most was that at the screenings, it was the 20 somethings, many who’d never heard of Jonathan Winters, who laughed the hardest.  The film is brilliantly edited (and no, my husband, the producer and editor, didn’t tell me to write that), and Buddy Judge’s score is perfect AND quirky (Now there’s something I’d wouldn’t mind on my tombstone).  Jonathan is indeed certifiable – as a comic genius who paved the wave for a generation of improvisational comics to follow.  You can see the trailer and find out how to order a DVD on the Official Certifiably Jonathan website.