An open letter to Seth MacFarlane

Dear Seth MacFarlane,

I’m sure you get lots of mail: some from dudes who love Family Guy, some from people who hated Ted 2, some from ladies who thought your boob song at the Oscars was in poor taste (for the record: I’m neutral…even as a feminist), some from ladies who are only interested in your immense wealth.  Maybe some from dudes hoping you’ll put them in touch both literally (gross) and telephonically with Mila Kunis, Amanda Seyfried, and/or Charlize Theron.

seth-macfarlane-tuxI’m writing to you about exactly none of the above things (although I wouldn’t mind talking to Charlize about being a 5’11” kickass woman who manages to look good with any hairstyle), because what I care about is your voice.  No, not the Stewie or Peter one from which you have made millions.  I mean that velvety, unabashedly old-fashioned crooner voice of yours singing along with Joel McNeely’s amazing orchestrations.  The one that conjures up images of velvet suit jackets, smoky lounges, and stiff drinks.  The one that has graced the BBC Proms at Royal Albert Hall.  The one that recorded three albums.  I realize you probably get mail about this too, but because I’ve watched Sleepless in Seattle too many times, I have developed this idea that like Meg Ryan’s character, my letter to you will somehow be more important than all the other letters you and your adorable-if-precocious son have received from women all over the country.

Wait.  Sorry.  You don’t have a son.  At least, that is what my current Google Search results tell me.  They also tell me that prolonged cell phone use may cause an increase in back and neck pain and brought up the Wikipedia page for Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan.  So I have a very exciting life as you can probably tell.

Anyway, I think you should know that one night I stayed up until the wee small hours of the morning (Haha get it?  Because you idolize Frank Sinatra and he recorded an album with this title and this joke is so funny you should hire me immediately to write for one of your shows hahaha) watching you sing “Joey Joey Joey” from Most Happy Fella at the BBC Proms on YouTube.  I’m kind of a sucker for that song anyway, because I happen to think Loesser is one of our most underappreciated musical theatre composers (did I mention I have a degree in musical theatre and an old-fashioned belt like Judy Garland?), but something about the way you sang it in your beautifully spun vibrato just knocked me out.  And despite years of watching Family Guy in living rooms around the Midwest (Where I grew up; I’m dropping these details just in case you want to keep falling in love with me.), this is when I fell in love with you: at 2 am in a tiny NYC bedroom with just the glow of my Macbook screen slicing through the dark and your voice ringing from the speakers.

I’m pretty certain I’m not the first woman (or even the second or third) to tell you she’s in love with you, because you are, after all, a good-looking, successful adult male who is well-rounded and charming and has had his fair share of romantic relationships (and probable imagined relationships in the brains of too-enthusiastic, moony-eyed fans of both sexes).  And I’m pretty certain I’m not the first woman to tell you she likes your singing voice, because you have a mother, and mothers will always tell you they like your singing voice even if it is terrible (unless your mother is Rose from Gypsy, because she will definitely ruthlessly tell you you’re not cut out to be in the biz if you’re terrible).  But I might be the only natural blonde woman (Are you in love with me yet?  I’m 27, so I’m definitely within your suitable dating age range) to tell you both of these things and also say that I think it’s time for you to change careers.

I know, right?!  Who the hell am I to give you career advice?  I’m not Oprah or one of those super attractive “career consultant” type ladies in Manolos The Today Show brings on for a segment that Matt Lauer has to pretend to care about when he’d rather be talking about ISIS, but because I’m a fellow Scorpio like you (See? We are perfect for each other), who has killer intuition and x-ray vision for bullshit, I have always sort of felt like Family Guy was a way of giving you the so-called freedom to do what you REALLY wanted to do: make pseudo-Sinatra albums and give into your more Capra-esque cinematic leanings.  Basically, all that long-windedness above summed up: please just go make Technicolor movie musicals or a Frank Capra-style screwball comedy or earnest drama.  Ted 2 was basically a Capra courtroom drama masquerading as a frat boy comedy.  A Million Ways to Die in the West wanted to be a musical.  Your albums are oozing with charisma and sentimentality.  140529100659-05-seth-macfarlane-0529-horizontal-large-galleryThis is not to say that Family Guy doesn’t have its merits as a consistently funny show and that your voice and animation work are not also important facets of your multifaceted talents; I merely am saying that I feel you are sometimes afraid of being earnest, sentimental, and—dare I say—sweet outside of your recordings and concert appearances, and frankly, those qualities are more attractive to me as an artist and woman than someone who always goes straight for the joke every time (and I would know as someone who regularly is afraid of being honest and sentimental and covers everything up with a well-timed witticism or joke).

As a nerd, I can instantly recognize other nerds, and you are a big one.  I’ve heard you give interviews, talking, in detail, about Nelson Riddle or Gordon Jenkins (who is totally underappreciated) or film scores with an enthusiasm normal people reserve for like, Beyoncé or the latest episode of Game of Thrones.  I once wrote a 25-page paper in college comparing John Williams’ scores for Star Wars, Jaws, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind to Wagner’s use of leitmotif in his operas.  This is not what normal people do, Seth, and you and I are not normal no matter how hard we both try.  I have made peace with this as I have aged and realized the right people will think I am cool, and I think you’re still working on that, which is totally fine.  Being comfortable with your nerdiness actually makes you cooler, I think (I’m still waiting for the popular girls from my high school to confirm this on Facebook, so I’ll get back to you).  I’m not saying you aren’t comfortable with your nerdiness, but because most people know you for being the cool guy of Family Guy or making dirty jokes at the Oscars, it’s almost like your nerdy jazz career is a super-secret alter-ego you only reveal to those you can trust, which is apparently mostly musical theatre/jazz aficionados, the BBC, and old people who miss the Big Band era, which are three very trustworthy, awesome, reliable groups, honestly.  Kudos.  But no great thing ever came from not taking risks, and I think you’re on the precipice (I am always looking for an opportunity to use that word, which I learned from Old Rose in Titanic back in 1997) of something great if you have the courage to just go for it.

I’m sorry for sounding like one of those motivational posters teachers hang in their classrooms that have trippy photos of nature, but I really think it’s time for you to boldly go where you’ve never gone before (Star Trek is still on the brain, clearly).  It’s your earnestness that I responded to when I watched “Joey Joey Joey” at 2am on Youtube, because you didn’t do anything for a laugh or to coast by on charm: you just sang the damn song from your heart.  I think there’s a big ole warm, gooey heart inside of you, MacFarlane, and I want to see it, because it’s way more interesting than everything else.  It’s real…you know what I mean?  And unlike Blanche DuBois from Streetcar Named Desire, I want real, not magic.

Okay, I sometimes want magic too (and especially during the holidays), but real is the substance of life, and I want that.  I think you want that too.  I need to take my own advice, as per usual, but this isn’t really about me.  Actually, I guess it IS sort of also about me too since I’m the one being all righteous and trying to tell you what to do with your life while ignoring my own.  So for the record, I get scared too.  Being funny always feels better because people don’t have time to judge the real parts of you when they’re laughing at something you say instead.  But being funny isn’t all that I am, and I could do a better job of letting myself be honest too.  I guess we both have homework to do, Seth, and if you’re anything like me, you probably enjoyed doing most of your homework (except math because you don’t need that to sing Sinatra or Garland songs).

I’m gonna wrap this shit up here, because I’m worried you’ve already stopped reading and/or are considering getting a restraining order against me, and I really only wanted to write to tell you I’m your fan and really rooting for you in whatever the next phase of your multiple careers is.  I think you’re probably the coolest nerdy dude in Hollywood, and I’m hoping NBC casts you as Harold Hill whenever they decide to do Music Man Live.  You’d crush it during “You’ve Got Trouble.”  I know that because I also watched you do it at the BBC Proms on Youtube in my bedroom (I should probably get a social life).

And if you feel like meeting me at the top of the Empire State Building on Valentine’s Day, I will be the blithely-cool, semi-neurotic, blonde Meg Ryan type (but taller) waiting for you.

Think about what I said.  And think about my Valentine’s Day offer.

Live long and prosper,

Emmy

Advertisements

Loves Labours Lost Part II or How I Fell Victim to the When Harry Met Sally Dilemma

I didn’t mention one pretty major thing in Part I, but I felt, in serving
the story properly, it needed to be discussed here.  One huge portion of my
life has been spent in the dating purgatory (well, the other besides
“She’s One of The Guys”-iosis) known as Are-We-a-Thing-Maybe-We-Are-But-Not-But-Kind-Of which leads to lots of Kind-of-But-Not-Really-But-It-Feels-Like-It Dates.  You’re thinking, oh big surprise, guys with commitment issues.  Imagine that!  It really goes beyond that, though.  These aren’t necessarily guys with commitment issues; these are guys who are so enigmatic for whatever reason (be it chivalry, shyness, or god forbid something else), they never tell you what they’re really thinking or feeling.  These are guys who give you just enough of those stupid “expert-tested” body language cues you read about in Cosmo magazine (believe me, I’ve read like, ALL of those godforsaken articles) to leave you utterly perplexed as to whether they like you or not, but it’s usually not on purpose.  A lot of times, the whole Are-We-Aren’t-We thing goes hand in hand with “She’s One of The Guys”-iosis, but really it goes back to the When Harry Met Sally dilemma: can men and women be just friends?

And you know what?  I don’t think it’s possible.  If you asked me a few years ago, I probably would have answered differently.  But that was before.  That was before I started on the treacherous path of Are-We-Aren’t-We with someone.  It’s one thing for gay men and straight women to be friends, but it’s an entirely different scenario when the man is also straight.  You know why, don’t you?  Because at some point you’re both thinking about sex with the other person; it may not be at the same time, but at one time or another you’ve both at least considered what the other person looks like naked.  Don’t pretend that you don’t know what I’m talking about.  With a gay male-straight female relationship, sex is immediately out of the equation, which allows for deep bonding without the worry of giving off signals or developing some sort of sexual attraction.  This is not the case with straight men and women; it doesn’t really matter what you do, there’s always going to be some sort of attraction there, even if it’s for five
seconds.  Until physical action has been taken, the tension can’t and won’t
subside.

I have been embroiled in this situation for over a year and a half, so you can imagine how horrible the tension has become.

For a while, I thought maybe I was making it up.  Initially, I thought perhaps I was exaggerating tiny little details in the hope that he was reciprocating.  We’ve known each other for four years and counting, so our friendship had been steadily building.  I didn’t really start feeling an attraction until about two years into the friendship when he and I started spending more time together and having more in-depth conversations.  As time and our conversations progressed, we became close confidantes, sharing sensitive personal information.  I could feel myself starting to wonder where this was going, especially since I’d had lots of guy friends over the years but none I’d talked to like this (except, naturally, gay friends).  This is where the trouble started.

I’d notice glances in my direction, the touching of knees underneath a table, random text messages, and bits of conversation I’d analyze to pieces.  It’s funny how attuned I became to the minutiae of his movements, speech, and overall interactions with me; it was like I was Daniel Day-Lewis doing some super Method Actor-y observations for a role.  THAT’S how attuned I was.  I’d spend hours talking with friends, trying to dissect him.  Some days, I’d purposely do something to try to coax him into making a move or saying something that would give him away all to no avail.  He’d give some small indication one day, and the next, there’d be none.  Finally I decided to be done with the whole thing.  The mental turmoil just wasn’t worth it.

Ha.  As if I could just give him up that easily.

To quote that fine singer of club songs (I use the term “singer” loosely here), Ke$ha, “Your love is my drug.”

So maybe it wasn’t or isn’t love, but it’s DEFINITELY a drug.  I’ve tried to quit cold turkey, but like the Millennium Falcon caught in the Death Star’s tractor beam (again, sorry), I keep being pulled back.  He has this hold over me, and I’m powerless to stop it.  It’s the Great What-If that keeps pulling me back.  The Great What-If can be a very powerful thing if you let it, and I’ve let it control me for a year and a half, though there have been a few times when I’ve ignored it altogether because I was in one of my I-quit phases.  Somehow though, like Luke Skywalker with a tie fighter on his tail (I really apologize for all these references.  I have Nerd Turretts.), “I can’t shake him!”  I keep coming back to it.  Back to him.

It’s when we’re alone together that slays me.  He says something that burrows itself deep within my soul and subconscious, and I don’t know how to react.  Then he just LOOKS at me for far too long for a normal conversational exchange, and I know that with any normal person, these are opportune moments for a kiss…which still hasn’t come.  It’s some weird, self-imposed barrier that we’re both too afraid to break.

BUT WE HAVE TO BREAK IT OR I’LL GO CHARLIE SHEEN CRAZY.

We’re stuck in a rut, and there has to be a natural progression to this, otherwise this cycle will continue, and he and I will keep coming back to each other, unable to move past this chemistry we never explored.  I keep wondering why we keep coming back.  I wonder why I’m not more upset that I haven’t heard back from a guy I had a little fling with over a month ago.  I wonder why I had such a hard time trying to tell my guy friend about that guy.  I wonder why he seemed a tiny bit jealous about it.  I wonder why he texted ME at 3 am one night from 1500 miles away instead of trying to get lucky with three girls he found cute at the bar he was in.  I wonder why he and I always seem to wind up sitting together at parties and bars and in the park.

My best friend, patient listener that she is, has told me on more than one occasion (including last night) that I have to break this vicious cycle.  I’m well aware of it.  I know I have feelings, I won’t deny that, but I also haven’t figured out what I want to do with them.  I don’t know what I want, and I sure as hell better know if he and I ever talk about the giant LOTR-ish elephant in the room (I think those are actually called Mumakil in Return of the King.  I had to look it up on Wikipedia.).  I know a huge part of me is just curious to see if he and I could work in that way, curious to see if we could work together physically too.  I won’t pretend that I think he also hasn’t considered it before.  He’s not stupid; I know he’s probably at least once noticed what’s going on between us, but he’s never done anything about it.

Well, kiddo, you can’t have it both ways.  Either you’re just a supportive friend or you want to be my boyfriend, but you can’t be jealous when I pay attention to another guy that isn’t you.  If that bothers you, then fucking DO something about it.  I can’t wait on you forever.  I won’t wait on you forever.

One of my favorite moments of When Harry Met Sally is when Harry, after years of are-we-aren’t-we moments, realizes on New Years Eve he loves Sally so he runs through Manhattan and finds her at a party to tell her, even though she is angry with him.  He tells her that “I love that you get cold when it’s seventy one degrees out, I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich, I love that you get a little crinkle above you nose when you’re looking at me like I’m nuts, I love that after I spend a day with you I can still smell your perfume on my clothes and I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it’s not because I’m lonely, and it’s not because it’s New Years Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of the life to start as soon as possible.”  It takes her by surprise, and she says “You see, that is just like you Harry. You say things like that and you make it impossible for me to hate you. And I hate you Harry…I really hate you.”  Then, of course, they kiss.

And while I know romantic comedies all have some sort of semi-cliched moment like this, I can’t help thinking that maybe THIS is what I want.  I want someone to know me that well and find all those weird little quirks about me wonderful; I want that sudden realization they can’t do without them.  They can’t do without ME.  And I don’t want them to be afraid to just tell me…even in the middle of an awesome late 1980s New Year’s Eve party.

I don’t know how all this will turn out.  I know I have to do something about this.  I am tired of indecision.  I am tired of being one of the guys.  I am tired of not being taken seriously as a woman.  I am tired of the glances and the missed opportunities and the soulful conversations that make me feel special but never really lead anywhere.  And as tired as I am where I should quit, there he will be to say that he would be lost without me or that I have a way of knowing exactly what he needs to hear and I just understand him better than anyone else.

You see?  That is JUST like you.  You say things like that, and you make it impossible for me to hate you.

Finals Week Distractions Day 2: May the 4th Be With You

On this, my second day of finals week, I didn’t have to look too hard for my daily distraction. 

As many of you know, today is May 4, which is also known as Star Wars Day.  Around the world today, people are changing their Facebook statuses and Tweeting their favorite quotes from Han Solo to Darth Vader to Yoda to even Padme/Amidala (who contributes possibly the worst ever quote, “You’re training to become a Jedi…I’m a senator.”  Fail, George Lucas.  That is just plain awful.).

My Facebook status today comes from my favorite film of the original trilogy, Empire Strikes Back.

Leia: “Why, you stuck up, half-witted, scruffy-looking Nerf herder!”

Han:  “Who’s scruffy-looking?”

Today, nerds of all shapes, sizes, and genders will finally be able to express their geekiness without fear of retribution.  So grab your lightsaber (that’s what she said), put your hair into giant buns, and yell out loud and proud, “MAY THE 4th BE WITH YOU!”

Embracing the Inner-Nerd

Hello, my name is Emmy Potter…

(Group members sitting in folding chairs in a circle: “Hello, Emmy!”)

…and I am a nerd.

This is not really earth-shattering information, by any means, but I feel it’s something I need to admit straight up.  I’ve always been a nerd-at-heart, honestly, but I’ve spent a good part of my life trying to pretend I’m not (Thank you K-12 grade!).  In elementary school, I was the teacher’s pet: I ran errands for my teachers, helped other students work on their homework, and always raised my hand to answer questions.  I had quite a few friends, but I wouldn’t say I was popular.

Middle school was the absolute worst.  Looking back on it, I don’t think I learned anything in middle school other than how to apply mascara properly, socialize,  and all the words to “Baby Got Back” by Sir-Mix-A-Lot.  As most of you know, these three things are essential to begin your journey toward being “cool.”  I was awkward and frizzy in those terrible three years of my life, always standing taller (I’m 5’10″…just so you know) than most of the boys I had a crush on (unfortunately, this still occurs today).  Not only that, but I was a band and choir geek, which I’m sure subtracted “cool” points for me back then.  I tried to be part of the “in-crowd,” hanging out with them at school dances and gossiping about and with them.  I didn’t see how different we were: they liked things like Nickelback, and I liked things like Back to the Future.

The truth is, I was never one of them, and I was never going to be one of them.

In high school, I devoted myself fully to band and choir, moving myself away from those so-called “cool” people I wanted to be like.  I thought stifling my nerd tendencies was a good idea; that I’d be happier because I’d be “cool.”  As I became more invested in band and choir, studying music and making friends with genuine and interesting people, I realized I was happier when I was there because I could be myself.  At home, my brother and I would have lengthy discussions about Star Wars and whether Gandalf or Dumbledore would win in a fight.  I started having these types of conversations with friends at school and guess what?  They didn’t run for the hills or laugh; they welcomed them!

In college, I’ve completely embraced my inner-nerd.  Now I openly discuss my favorite episodes of Lost (my very favorite is “The Constant” from season 4, btw) and how cool I thought it was that Leonard Nimoy had a cameo in the Star Trek reboot.  And I’m not the only one who cares about these things anymore!  I’ve found whole groups of people who share my love for these same kinds of things.  It’s “cool” here to have Lost watch-parties and sing-along with Lea Michele and Matthew Morrison on Glee!

And you know what?  When I go back home, I’m the cool one now: the one who listens to indie bands and has seen all the Oscar contenders and knows that The Godfather trilogy is much more epic than the hair on MTV’s Jersey Shore.  I’m cool because I’ve stopped trying to be somebody else and just embraced who I actually am.  If, by those former HS classmates of mine, being “cool” means I have to sacrifice loving Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley or crying when I read the last few chapters of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, then I don’t want to be “cool.”

I’ll just stick to being a nerd, thanks.  Live long and prosper and may the force be with you.