Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Surprise of Familiarity

Out on a drive in the backroads of northern Delaware, where one can see Mansions that don't have a preceding "Mc" attached, the ever-loving wife noted, apropos of no topic being bandied about at the time, "It's those people who have cd's or dvd's who never play them but are enthralled into gluing themselves into a sofa when a song or a movie, a copy of which they already have in some form, is playing on the radio and tv.." And here she caught her breath and I pause for a stoppage in say. "...It's those people that I don't understand!"

My spouse, a delightful creature of magnificent memory, quick wit, and ready tongue, realizes that the best time to have these type of conversations is when I'm behind the wheel of a car and she is seated next to me, giving her one of the classic seating positions. The "Better to hear her" position. It's also a position of weakness for me, as I must involve some of my already limited cognitive powers on conducteering our modest car safely to our destination. What wits I have about me are now reduced by the act of driving, so fending off the point of her topic becomes an ordeal I try to ignore at least long enough until we get to a stoplight.
As the backroads offered no succor in stoppage, she continued,"Why do they get such a thrill in watching a movie on tv or listening to a song on the radio when they have THESE THINGS accumulating in the house?" I may be deaf to the barrage but I am not blind to the target. Them Things can only mean Those Things and when you're mixing them's and those's, you can only be talking about two things.
Billy Holliday singing "God Bless the Child" or the cd/book accumulations in our humble chateau. In either case, you're discussing some deep blues.

Did you know that Maglites were invented by a Croatian? My wife was not familiar with this fact although she was quite aware of the features of these flashlights. By turning the head of the light to the right, a broad amount of light shot out from the Maglite. By continuing to turn the head to the right, the light increased its intensity while reducing it's coverage. Turn it right enough and a pin of intense light bore through the object the light was pointed at. Sound, like light, is also a wave. In the proper mouth, sound can be crafted to hit a general topic or concentrated to shine its waves on a specific point in the ear, cutting through the Outer and Middle Ear and honing in in the Vestibulo-Cochlear Nerve

Did you know that torpedoes were invented by, yes, a Croatian? The ever-loving wife was quite familiar with this below-the-surface weaponry. I'm a overladen freighter of raw ideas, slowly plowing through dark waters of doubt and rationality. I'd shag one of those ideas and haul it up for inspection and polishing, thinking it ready for public pronouncement. By chance, I'd look over the side and just catch the propeller end of the ever-loving wife's logic as it keyed in on my idea. No double-hulls for me, in most cases. The bow would dip and the stern quickly stands up end as my idea quickly sinks.
But this time, I think I may be able to fend her off. And, ladies and gents, fending is quite important. There's a cargo of books, cd's, and dvd's that are hoping to stay on the good ship and not get blown out, flotsam and jetsam for the easy picking.

So, what is the attraction of viewing, say "What About Bob?", on tv, on a commercial channel, chopped up by commercials stealing the very soul of the movie right in front of you, when you can easily plop in the dvd that you own of this movie? Is it inertia? Is it the commercial station's diabolically subliminal signal permeating the cranium with invisible skeltal fingers squeezing the last miiligrams of self-control out of you?
But, I tend to think of these entertainment moments in terms of comfort food. These movies or music cd’s are the lifetracks of positive feelings we had at some point in the past. With the hectic pace of it all, the past may only have been a month or two ago. What we perceived as personal is actually global; there are millions of people watching/listening to these oft-repeated lifetracks. But experiencing it again (and again and ad infinitum) in the confines of one’s home leaves us with the deceptive warmth of personal choice. Ah, the pleasures of self-delusion! And choice is what it’s all about. We think we are choosing, because we do have the power to flick to another channel, but the choice has already been made by some programming exec in a tall building in NYC. We sink back down into our couches and bind in a doldrum of vacancy, connecting to a familiar site with a surprised look/listen. “Hey, they’re playing our song/movie!”
Poor, poor man. Taken in again by the surprise of familiarity.

Here, then, The Usual Suspects:
Mrs. Doubtfire. (This movie is close to having its own channel, isn't it? Mrs. Doubtfire 24/7.)
Shawshank Redemption.
The already mentioned What About Bob?

Christmas is coming, so expect more Surprises of Familiarity.
The Christmas Story.
Home Alone 1, 2, & 3.
National Lampoon Christmas Vacation.

"Did you know that Maglites were invented by a Croatian?"


AND, I learned that the Foundation for Donkey Protection also has a Croatian to thank for its inception!
Maglites and torpedos were invented by non-enterprising Croatians? How can this be? Methinks somewhere deep in Croatian business history there must have been a Trump-like ogre, complete with implacable comb-over, flogging reluctant Croatians to "be enterprising, dammit!"
I am happy to learn that the human inner ear is inhabited by an "organ" that looks suspiciously like an extraterrestrial slug. This just makes my day.

Did a Croatian draw this?
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