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September 23 2003

Sarah Vowell revisits 'Ted' with a great article 'John Ritter, Greatest Mom-Kissing, Tranqilizer-Laced-Cookie-Baking, Serial Killer Robot in TV History, Dead at 54'.

Wonderful. Love Sarah Vowell to the point that my wife is a little jealous.
Kind of left me wanting more. She basically summarized the episode 'Ted,' pointed out a few of the really obvious metaphors, and oh, by the way, John Ritter did some great stuff in there too. Kinda lacked focus - I wanted more insight into what made Ritter's performance so great. Not one of Vowell's best efforts.

Sigh. Will stop criticizing now. I love Vowell dearly and don't mean to be a downer. It's nifty just to see Buffy (and John RItter) mentioned in the über-cool hipster pages of McSweeney's.
Wren: Kind of left me wanting more. ...Kinda lacked focus... Not one of Vowell's best efforts."

Vowell: Ritter nails that "gosh."

I dunno. I think Vowell nails Ritter's performance. Noticing that Ritter was "so game" and "had a dark streak." By the way, do women actually find "doughy" attractive, or is that just a polite way of saying "fat"?

Mostly, Vowell credits Ritter's performance as a very distorted tribute to Three's Company and the misunderstandings that occurred there. Ritter was kinda making fun of himself when he played that role, similar to when he pulled off the movie Stay Tuned. Ritter was thankful for his days on Three's Company. He once joked that they'd play that theme at his funeral, and he wasn't far off the mark. I mean Ritter had a grasp of how the public envisioned him, how they viewed him as a man and as a myth. He found humor in it (cuz admit it, it is pretty silly what we do to complete strangers just cuz we see them on tv or read about them on the web) and played it up. He enjoyed his life and every facet of it, even how we viewed him. It's a testament to his life, to know how he's seen by strangers, compare that to who he really is, and not feel shortchanged or lose confidence. He just seemed to love it all.

All that said, you think Sarah Vowell would go for me? I bet she's a massive playa with mad skills in the sack, yo.
We're not a Buffyverse dating agency. Saying that I met my fiancee on a Buffy board so who am I to talk?

And pardon me for me being ignorant but what is McSweeneys anyhow? I only read Salon and the Guardian these days.
what is McSweeneys anyhow?

Well, the short answer is that it's an Internet lit mag. The long answer is that it was founded by Dave Eggers just before the publication of his memoir A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. It's run out of Brooklyn, NY, features a great deal of work by popular underground author Neal Pollack and was, at one time - oh, let's say, 2000 - THE arbiter of taste for all things hip, cool, and indie for scenesters around the country. It was a zeitgeist of sorts, now it's more of a legend past it's prime. But the Eggers mythos means it will never be completely forgotten.

And I stand by my asserton that Vowell's article didn't tell me a lot about Ritter's performance. Why the digression into the upcoming saga of Surprise/Innocence? Apparently it was to illustrate the way melodramatic teen angst was played out metaphorically in the Buffyverse; which is a fine topic - but not one that needed to be explored in so much detail in an article about John Ritter and 'Ted.'

Sarah Vowell is a great writer, but even great writers need great editors, and McSweeney's was asleep at the wheel on this one. They should have cut all the Buffy/Angel junk, highlighted the stuff about metaphor (it gets totally lost), and asked for more insight into Ritter's performance. Zachsmind shouldn't have to write 20 lines about how it was an evolution of his Three's Company work; that should be in the frigg'n article, not somewhere between the lines.

[ edited by wren on 2003-09-23 18:27 ]
Thank you wren, much appreciated. With the commentary provided you and Zachsmind and others we have a lot of darn good great writing here.
I guess it kinda depends on what Sarah's intent was in writing that piece for McSweeny's. Was this her idea of an unique obituary for John Ritter? Was this her obituary for BtVS? Was she shining light on a little known episode of the show which people might be noticing in the light of Ritter's passing and she wanted to plant her flag and admit she thought of it first? (she didn't, I mean Buffy fans were cheering "Ted!" immediately after Ritter's passing, as if to claim him for US despite all his efforts outside the BuffyVerse). Was she just offering filler to the website cuz somebody at McSweeny begged her to write something for them and this is what she pulled out of her ass?

I guess upon revisiting this blurb of an essay (after the being blinded by Ms. Vowell's name faded) I don't know if she had an idea who her intended audience was, what her goal was in communicating, or if she was just rambling about something that interested her at the moment. If it's the latter, I wanna know how she does that and gets celebrity status (perhaps even occasionally money), and I do the same thing and get bupkus. How come I'm never invited on Conan O'Brien. Granted, she's cuter and she's a better dresser, but one writer to another, I can ramble just as good as she can. But I'm not bitter *smirk*

It's kinda difficult to ascertain whether or not Vowell's work here is valid or if it hit all the points it should have, as Wren has been attesting she didn't, unless we understand just what her goal was. Maybe she was coy about the details for a reason, so someone like me could come along and be more obvious about it. I dunno. Could someone who knows Ms. Vowell personally ask her what her intent was with this piece, because we're all completely flumoxed here. And while you're at it tell her I think she has mad skills.

It was fun. An off-center little piece from an off-center little zine, with a little creep-out ending focusing in on Ritter's death scene.

Everything doesn't have to analysed into the ground, it's pretty much guaranteed to kill off any joy. I have four years of film studies to back me up on this one.

Zachsmind - You should try to write something for publication. I must have seen you mention the 'why not me' thing half-a-dozen times this summer.

Zachsmind - I meant that in an encouraging way, not a pissy dismissive one.

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