Thursday, November 27, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
I like to think I don't watch much TV, but that's not true. I watch plenty of TV. I watch cartoons with my boys. I watch CBS Sunday Morning every week. I eagerly anticipate Antiques Road Show every week. I also like The History Detectives, and I watch football.
Here's the thing: I like to laugh. Not surprising, I guess; a lot of people like to laugh. I ask you, though, what is there to laugh at on television? None of the aforementioned programs are comedies. I've watched episodes of How I Met Your Mother. I've seen Chuck. I'm half watching SNL right now. They don't get it done. I'm not saying these shows are unfunny, but I don't crack up when I watch them. I chuckle regularly, but I never get that good, cathartic belly laugh I'm looking for. I've resorted to perusing YouTube for Mystery Science Theater 3000 clips.
That's why I would like to, publicly and in writing, thank Tina Fey. Thank you Tina Fey, for 30 Rock. Yes, I'm aware that the show has been around for a few years now, but until recently I had never seen an episode. I try to avoid being trendy, you see, and if a show gets popular I usually avoid it. This had been the case with 30 Rock until my wife recently started watching it. Since she was watching (and enjoying) the third season, she wanted to see the earlier seasons. We have Blockbuster Online, so we got the first disc. We made short work of it, and traded it in at Blockbuster for Season 1 Disc 2. That was earlier tonight, and we've watched over half of the episodes on that disc.
So thank you Tina Fey. 30 Rock is the only show on TV right now that keeps me laughing. The concept is good, the writing is absurdly hilarious, and the cast is spectacular. I haven't been pleasantly surprised about a TV show in a long time, but 30 Rock has done it. They consistently hit the mark. Keep up the good work, folks. Thanks for lightening my heart.
Monday, November 17, 2008
NOTE: At the behest of the masses, I post again. I'm not sure why youse guys are putting so much pressure on me lately since I've had much longer posting gaps before, but I'm caving. You only have yourselves to blame.
As some of you may already know, our oldest son Max has been shedding teeth like a shark. By the time one tooth comes out another one or two start getting wiggly. He lost another one last night, but . . . well, let's just say the tooth fairy got one a little earlier than she expected.
I was sitting at the computer sorting through our Blockbuster Online queue when I heard a big thud. No big deal. I've heard thuds before. Only after this thud Max started crying. Nearly any cry merits parental attention, but this one was different. There was a decidedly hysterical sound to this cry, and not in the humorous sense. This wasn't a bonk on the head or a banged shin. This was real pain.
I shot up from my chair and hurried to Max processing an amazing number of potential problems in the seven feet from the computer desk to the ottoman where my son lay. Broken arm/hand/finger(s)? His arm was positioned awkwardly, but it didn't look broken. And as I said before, the cry was too powerful for a simple head bonk. I didn't see a pool of blood, no evidence of puncture wounds . . . what was it? Then I picked Max up and looked him in the face.
"Oh gosh, buddy!!"
Yes, my exclamation at the sight of my son's bloodied mouth was really that G-rated, but 'unprofane' as it was, it was also that unhelpful. My boy needed calm, and I was not providing it. He stood there crying, and I could see the blood in his mouth. Finally my eyes fixed on the gap where his incisor used to be. It was a baby tooth, thankfully, and it was already getting loose before Max's face-first collision with the armchair, but it was far from being ready to come out. I got him to the bathroom, Mary Ann brought a wet wash cloth, and we got him settled in.
Max was still freaking out a bit at this point, which was understandable. Mary Ann continued to try and stem the bleeding, so I went out to get a cup of saltwater. I can still remember that when I lost one of my teeth when I was a kid my Dad sent me out to the front porch with a cup of saltwater in hand. The instructions were to swish, spit, and repeat. So I did what my Dad did.
I went into the bathroom and handed Max the cup of water. The biggest struggle at that point was keeping him from 1)freaking out over how bloody his spit was in the sink, and 2)freaking himself out even more by looking at himself in the mirror.
Soon the cup of saltwater was gone, we were out of the bathroom and in front of the TV. By the time Aang vanquished Fire Lord Ozai the psychological trauma was, for the most part, over. Max's psychological trauma, that is. Mine is still going. Every time I look at him and see his purpled gums and that raw toothless gap, I'm reminded that I can't always protect my boys.
Max's tooth will grow back, and we'll probably laugh about this story one day. Heck, if he's anything like me Max will milk this story for every laugh, wince, and gasp it's worth. But I'll always remember the heartsick feeling that, even though it happened in a small way this time, life can change irreversibly in a heartbeat.
I must confess I feel foolish, having such a strong reaction to such a small event, but I guess that's because I've lead a pretty easy life to this point. God has been merciful to me and mine. Still, even small traumas can help gain a little perspective.
I can't go through my life expecting every detail to work out, even where my kids are concerned. We were never promised that. God never said, "be faithful to me and you'll raise a quiver full of healthy kids, live comfortably, and die surrounded by loving grandchildren." We get trials like everyone else. In fact, as Christians we have a target on our backs from Satan as well as human enemies of the Gospel. They hated Jesus, and they'll hate us.
So instead of falling into the 'comfort' mindset that is so common for Americans, I want to use last night's drama as a wake up call. Ladies and gents, we are not guaranteed comfort, but we are truly in God's hands. And uncomfortable as that may seem, it's the best place you'll ever be.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
I'm having a tough time with my writing right now. I haven't written much since the middle of October. When I wrote "Keep Thinking, Keep Moving" I did it in one night. It turned out alright, too. I was fairly happy with it and, as I wrote in a previous post, I have gotten a decent response to it. The problem with writing something that quickly is that I start expecting to continue in that fashion. Unfortunately, that doesn't happen. My experience with "Keep Thinking, Keep Moving" was highly atypical in that way.
I think that one reason I'm having trouble with my other stories is that I don't know my characters well enough. I can't write them as naturally as I would like. Their dialogue and reactions to certain situations aren't obvious to me like Stooke's were in "Keep Thinking, Keep Moving."
I was wondering why I knew Stooke so well and am having trouble with other characters. Eventually I realized that 1) Stooke is based on a real person and the story is based on a real incident, therefore 2) I've really been working on that story for about seven years. It was ready. That could be problematic. If a 1000 word story takes seven years I'm not going to be very productive. There is hope, however. Stooke's character, while based on a real person, is not identical to that person. He changed while I was writing the story. I've also written other stories in one large chunk; stories that didn't involve characters I knew before. So that's encouraging.
Another factor that has worked against me lately is the Flash Fiction contest. I'm still waiting on the results, and I've allowed myself to become sort of paralyzed in the mean time. I just need to forget about he contest until the results are released and focus on writing. I think, now that we're nine days into November, I'm ready to do so. Hopefully I'll be able to come on here and report on new stories very soon.
Happy now, Sam and Aaron? :-)