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Black Lamb

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Now in its 14th year of publication, this magazine was created to offer the discerning reader a stimulating selection of excellent original writing. Black Lamb Review is a literate rather than a literary publication. Regular columns by writers in a variety of geographic locations and vocations are supplemented by features, reviews, articles on books and authors, and a selection of “departments,” including an acerbic advice column and a lamb recipe.

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Archive for the 'Gendelman' Category

Charlotte triumphant

A must-read

June 1st, 2016

BY MICHELLE GELDELMAN

CHAPTER 1

It was 196_, during that humid, pre-cable summer between third and fourth grades, when my mother gave me her copy of Jane Eyre. Whether dear Mammá did so for my edification or merely to quell my restive humors, it mattered not; for upon learning that Charlotte Brontë was obliged to adopt the masculine nom de plume Currer Bell to hide her gender, I was filled with an indignation that compelled me to read on….

CHAPTER 4

How cruelly our orphan’d heroine suffered at the hands of her scornful aunt and vile brute of a cousin! And when Jane dared defend herself, she was summarily rewarded with a blow to the head and confined to a haunted bedchamber. Still, her courage inspired me; and thus when my parents insisted that I wash the dinner dishes while my brothers brontecharlotte(hearty and dexterous lads both) were at liberty, I protested. “Fie, goodly sir and madam,” I cried, “but never shall I tolerate such gross injustice!” Suspension of privileges, however, proved even less tolerable, so for the next fortnight I played scullery maid… till one day dear Mammá (she of the breakfast and luncheon dishes) threatened a rebellion of her own, leading to dear Papá’s immediate purchase of a Kenmore dishwasher with Pot Scrubber Cycle.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: Black Lamb Review of Books, Books and Authors, Gendelman | Link to this Entry

House of mirth

It runs in the family

January 1st, 2016

BY MICHELE GENDELMAN

Television comedy writers are often asked how, where, and when they first learned to be funny. (The second and third most frequent questions are, “Why do all network comedies blow?” and “Can you get me free cable?”)

Many writers will say they didn’t discover their ability to make others laugh until they entered school, where they quickly found that their skills as class clown grew in proportion to the number of times they served detention. While I acknowledge the value of our educational system as a training ground for comedy (if for nothing else), it was my own experience — and that of dozens of other writers I know — that funny, just like charity and neurosis, begins at home.

womanlaughinginrockerWhen you’re brought up in a funny family, funny is really a sort of language you learn to speak, a lingua franca with a lexicon of puns and a grammar structured by Groucho glasses. A spit-take is a complete sentence, with a subject and a predicate. Equally as important as the ability to produce funny is the faculty for understanding funny when one hears it, sees it, or steps in it.

The roots of my family funny-tree run deep. My mother was the child of immigrants renowned back in Kiev for coining the phrase “The Czar we know is always better than the Czar we don’t know, as if anybody asked our opinion.” However, their funny was not confined to mere bons mots; as their arrival in this country three days before the October Revolution of 1917 indicates, they were also well-versed in that attendant comedic concept known as timing. Visits to my maternal relatives were splendid occasions of story-telling and joke-building, a middle-class Algonquin Round Table with Schlitz and pierogi standing in for dry martinis and lobster Thermidor.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: 13th Anniversary Issue, Gendelman | Link to this Entry

Those damned choppers!

January 1st, 2013

BY MICHELE GENDELMAN

From 2003 through 2005 I inflicted a humor column upon this publication, in which, among other topics, I recounted many of my experiences and exploits as a showbiz comedy writer. I called it “Mulholland Jive.”

The house in which my fellow-comedy-scribe husband and I have resided for the last twenty-six years sits approximately half-a-mile north of Mulholland Drive. The hills leading up to it literally begin their ascent in my back yard and continue through several small canyons to Mulholland, which follows the crest of the low mountain range separating the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles from the Big City proper. Where I live is a neighborhood called Sherman Oaks. (The oaks, we’ve seen; we have yet to learn whence Sherman.)

Friends and relatives from other parts of the country continually ask me which film and TV stars live in my neighborhood. When they visit, they eagerly accompany me to the local mall and grocery stores, hoping for a glimpse of a celebrity. Truth be told, it was rather fun, living in a faubourg full of “I’ve seen that guy a million times!” character actors and bona fide stars (“Oh my God, is that Annette Bening squeezing avocados in the produce department?!”).

Until last year.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: 10th Anniversary Issue, Gendelman | Link to this Entry

Sensory overload

In the meadow we can build a snowmensch.

December 1st, 2004

BY MICHELE GENDELMAN

Until our son came along, my first husband and I’d had no cause to debate The Tree Issue. But before we even entered into negotiations, I made a preemptive strike by bringing home a four-foot high artificial pine tree and all the trimmings: our little prince of Israel was going to experience the wonders of both Chanukah and Christmas! My husband turned white as powdered sugar, like a pfeffernusse cookie with legs.

turkeydinner.jpgUnderstandable. He came from a Conservative, glatt kosher home, and even though his parents lived back on the east coast, he was terrified they’d call to wish us a happy Chanukah and hear tinsel tinkling in the background. I had to explain to him that tinsel doesn’t tinkle; sleigh bells do.

I, however, the all-American mutt (Irish, Jewish, Polish, German, and one one-hundred-and-twenty-eighth Delaware Indian, which is only one one-hundred-and-twelve parts away from tribal membership and a share in a casino), had belonged to a Reform congregation whose rabbi dressed up as Santa Claus every year to entertain underprivileged moppets at the Knights of Columbus. I didn’t know any Jews, in my family or elsewhere, who didn’t celebrate Christmas.

“How will he know he’s Jewish if we celebrate Christmas?” my son’s father protested.

“He’ll know by going to Hebrew school,” I said, “and by becoming a bar mitzvah. And if that fails, the first time he sees a foreskin in a locker room full of goyim, I’m reasonably confident that he’ll catch on.”

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Christmas Issue, Gendelman | Link to this Entry

The Thing is…

September 1st, 2003

BY MICHELE GENDELMAN

When first asked to write about the movie that most influenced my life, I groaned. My cinephilia began on a small black-and-white Zenith with the Early Show every afternoon, Creature Feature on weekends, and Saturday matinees at the neighborhood popcorn palace. Add the film history classes in high school and college, graduate school in film and television studies, plus the last twenty years seeing no fewer than seven movies per week, and even a lowball estimate shoots the 10,000 mark. Pick one?!

Okay, The Thing from Another World. When I first saw it, in the late Fifties, I was a kindergartener in a grimy Garden State exurb of Gotham where my dad taught high school while pursuing his doctorate at NYU. We were just scraping by on hand-me-downs and mac-and-cheese dinners, but we were blessedly within broadcast range of the Metromedia network’s New York station and its magnificent library of old movies.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Movie Issue, Gendelman | Link to this Entry

Charlotte triumphant

June 1st, 2003

BY MICHELE GENDELMAN

CHAPTER 1

It was 196_, during that humid, pre-cable summer between third and fourth grades, when my mother gave me her copy of Jane Eyre. Whether dear Mammá did so for my edification or merely to quell my restive humors, it mattered not; for upon learning that Charlotte Brontë was obliged to adopt the masculine nom de plume Currer Bell to hide her gender, charlottebrontephotoI was filled with an indignation that compelled me to read on….

CHAPTER 4

How cruelly our orphan’d heroine suffered at the hands of her scornful aunt and vile brute of a cousin! And when Jane dared defend herself, she was summarily rewarded with a blow to the head and confined to a haunted bedchamber. Still, her courage inspired me; and thus when my parents insisted that I wash the dinner dishes while my brothers (hearty and dexterous lads both) were at liberty, I protested. “Fie, goodly sir and madam,” I cried, “but never shall I tolerate such gross injustice!” Suspension of privileges, however, proved even less tolerable, so for the next fortnight I played scullery maid… till one day dear Mammá (she of the breakfast and luncheon dishes) threatened a rebellion of her own, leading to dear Papá’s immediate purchase of a Kenmore dishwasher with Pot Scrubber Cycle.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Book Issue, Books and Authors, Gendelman | Link to this Entry

Author profile

December 1st, 2002

Michele Gendelman is a comedy writer who lives in Los Angeles and has written for screens both big and small, including such series as Newhart, Ghost Stories, and Facts of Life. She also writes for animated series for PBS and Cartoon Network and teaches screenwriting at Los Angeles City College. Her first book, What the Other Mothers Know, was published in the spring of 2007 by HarperCollins. She is married to screen- and television writer Andy Guerdat. Her Black Lamb column is called Mulholland Jive.

Posted by: The Editors
Category: Gendelman | Link to this Entry

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