Sunday, January 14, 2007

What I'm doing when I'm not blogging on the Golden Globes

Whoops . . . I thought the Golden Globes was tonight and I thought (since I don't have to be at work tomorrow) I would blog my thoughts while keeping half an eye on the awards show.

But, the GGs must be on tomorrow night, because NBC (whom I think own the broadcast rights to the show) are instead insulting our intelligence and banking on (some of) our nostalgia with the show "GREASE: You're the One that I Want," a reality talent show that could be best described as "You mean this isn't "American Idol"? and the prize is a one shot chance as anonymity on Broadway?"

Of course, that isn't the only thing that is on TV tonight. The juggernaut that is "24" begins it's sixth season tonight with the first installment of a two-night premiere.

I watch a fair bit of TV and read about even more, but "24" is a show that I missed from the beginning and have never bothered to keep up with. A great many people are devoted to it and I am sure that it provided excitement, thrills, and suspense aplenty, but the increasingly worsening days of Jack Bauer have never caught my fancy. Probably some of that is due to programming. I think it was always broadcast on Tuesday nights in the past, a night when I don't watch much television since I am driving back and forth from Hilliard for our weekly bible study class.

But anyway, "24" is kicking off tonight and from what I am seeing so far, there are words like "terrorist," "drop point," "extreme prejudice" (I kid you not!), and the usual split-screen excitement going on. I think the villain this year is Arabic--possibly Iranian?--and only Jack Bauer, sprung from Chinese jail by the direct intervention of the Executive Office, can save the day (literally! 24, remember?).

We'll see . . .

So, to sum up so far . . . no Golden Globes, but don't worry. I've got a hand written backup plan tonight. Earlier today, while keeping an eye on the girls while Lynda spent some time at the office, I jotted down some thoughts. I'll type them for your (undeniable) enjoyment.

I'm sitting in the basement with the girls.

Actually I'm sitting inside a folding tent-like chamber that is vaguely like a human-sized version of those plastic hamster habitat tubes. Sarah and Grace are sitting beside me in their own habitats. Sarah is repeatedly singing the word "telephone." I think that she is imagining a TV video--complete with dialogue from two imaginary female characters.

(By the way, have I told you that I sometimes wonder if Sarah is schitzophrenic? Her imagination seems so vivid and real and present . . .)

Grace is so convinced of Sarah's "video" that she is constantly clicking the video player (which is really just a plastic toy they are reimagining as a VCR) on and off, on and off--much to Sarah's anger since it disrupts the constant stream of dialogue that she is creating. It seems that the two female characters are obsessing over their lack of friends. (Are my girls becoming insecure already?)

Now Grace has started playing random notes on the electronic keyboard down here in the basement and before I am finished writing the sentence she is back again arguing that Sarah won't share the video tape that doesn't really exist.

Now they are telling me about a new movie "Chicken in Love," a movie that they are in the process of making up, but they are doing it so quickly, my handwriting can't keep up with the unspooling movie--and the accompanying theme song--as my hand cramps and I lay on the floor, scribbling notes on scrap paper with a dull Crayola colored pencil (gray, in case you are interested).

The girls ability to constantly talk, downloading all of this stuff down from their brains is amazing to see. I suppose I did the same thing when I was young, out in the backyard, sitting on a folding chair set on top of the picnic table, flying the Millennium Falcon through the galaxy.

. . .

Sorry, I had to stop and argue with them for a minute when Sarah got upset because Grace was "staring at her." I wonder why this is so surprising, since Sarah has done nothing but carry on a stream-of-conscious, two-person dialogue while looking at a plastic toy for the last five minutes. But I try to encourage Grace to play with some of the many other toys surrounding us here in the basement. It's amazing that they spend so much time complaining about what to do, given this fact of toys. I swear, I should donate the whole lot of these toys to someone else and convert the basement into my own Fortress of Solitude.

And really, they are usually asking me to "play" with them but all I'm doing is taking notes while lying on the floor, like an anthropologist studying the Yanomamo. I guess they only require my presence, not necessarily my participation (at least on this day). But there are times when I wonder why I shouldn't be upstairs continuing to read my newest book (Can't Take My Eyes Off of You: 1 Man, 7 Days, 12 Televisions by Jack Lechner) which was given to me by Lulu. I also just finished reading Chuck Klosterman IV. So, it's an overload of pop culture musings and quirky observations.

Of course, these are the things I could be doing for a living if I had talent or connections. Instead I read others doing it first and doing it better.

All right, bitterness over . . .

Being a writer means being well read, something I observe often. This has been reinforced many times recently as I listened to Ronald Moore's podcasts of his show "Battlestar Galactica." He often points out in his remembrances of episodes how many references to books and movies the writers of the show use as their jumping off points for episode ideas. This was reinforced again this morning while I was watching "The Backyardigans" with the girls. The writers for this kids show were relying on the murder mystery genre/Sherlock Holmes tropes to create their kiddie whodunit.

That made me wonder about the writer's decision to make the butler the first suspect in the episode. At first I thought it was a bit of a cop-out and a lazy way to write the episode, but then I thought that I was being too postmodern, too meta- for a kids show. So, then I wondered if the writers felt some obligation to put "the butler did it" in the episode because its such a cultural idiom that they are required to hand it down to the next generation.

If that is so, this is an interesting reflection on our current culture. Earlier parents had to teach their kids how to grow corn and make bread. We now might be obligated to teach our kids how to be pop culture literate so they'll understand snarky cocktail small talk.

(The Greatest Generation, we're not.)

1 comment:

Sven Golly said...

Your metafictional musing begs for metacommentary, so stop me if I get caught in the mirror-facing-mirror tunnel. It's quite entertaining to imagine you and your daughters creatively killing time in your subterranean habitats. Do Sarah's characters have names? Do their identities move from story to story? When will 'Chicken in Love' be out on DVD? Now, if you'll excuse me, John Dewey, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Jacques Derrida are on the other line discussing your "butler did it" question and the cultural significance of signs and symbols that are embedded in the language to be conveyed to successive generations. So, what self-congratulatory phrase will you give your generation when your work is done and you've made it into a mini-series?