Sunday, July 31, 2011

Bachelor For A Weekend, Sort Of

Well, My wife went off to a weekend seminar/retreat that a friend had invited her to and took our four year old son with her so that left me by myself and loosely a bachelor for a few days. As expected I returned to bachelor eating mode and have had sandwiches, hotdogs and hamburger helper. What I didn't realize is that I'd be spending as much time as I have working around the house. Today for instance I cut (most) of the grass, cleared off the brush pile, did two loads of laundry (and folded and put away last weeks laundry) as well as washed dishes and attempted to straighten things up a bit.

Now think of it even though I didn't get off work until 11:30 Friday night I didn't go see any bands play, nor did I go to the movies and I didn't even get to write anything, until now that is, and I need to get to bed so I have to make this quick. So nothing personally gratifying got done and I mostly did things around the house for the betterment of the family.

At least I was able to watch the final two and a half shows of the last season of The Inbetweeners which is a brilliant British comedy about four friends in high school who are neither the coolest or the geekiest so they are inbetween, hence the title. It ended somewhat strangely normal where there was nothing settled in the characters lives. Simon is moving away because of his fathers work even though his last year of school is almost over. The lads play a texting game where everyone gets someone else's phone and sends a text, no rules. Simon gets a return text from the girl he's loved most of his life and fearing the worst he reads it silently before smiling and saying somewhat cryptically "brilliant." Then they end up throwing up on each other in the tent (after his car ends up in the lake) and start to walk home. And that's it, shows over. At least there is an Inbetweeners movie to be released next month although I don't know when or if it will come out here in the States.

So that's been my day. Pretty boring eh? Tomorrow hopefully I'll go to by best friend Tom's house to work on the lyrics for a new song and maybe even start another. That way at least I'll finally have done something creative with my time although I did manage to find some good music and arrange a playlist for my Ipod of late 70s and early 80s British music earlier today. It consists of bands like The Ruts, The Skids, The (English) Beat, The Clash, Sex Pistols, The Specials, The Jam and on and on. So I've got that going for me. For now though it's time to sleep.

Published by Don Leach

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Lack Of Originality or American Vs British Television

I've been on a bit of a writing sabbatical for the past few weeks and although I've had tons of ideas to write about I just couldn't bring myself to start any of them. Perhaps sometimes a break is needed to charge the mental batteries or married life will intervene or just maybe I had a case of writers block. Who's to say? I'm not sure why this happened but thankfully it appears to be over. While on this self imposed exile from creativity I had the chance to watch some British television shows that came highly recommended by Brian Quinn from the Tell 'Em Steve Dave podcast.

First up was An Idiot Abroad which is about a man named Karl Pilkington who is sent to see the seven wonders of the world and is expected to report on them. The trouble is that Karl hasn't been to many places in his life and doesn't much care for other cultures and their habits. It didn't help that producers and friends Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant made sure to put him in as many unpleasant situations as they could. They made sure to book him into some of the most rundown hotels they could find, used some of the worst transportation available and ensured he would be exposed to foreign cultures no matter how much he complained, no matter how unhappy he was. The show was great fun and season two has already wrapped up shooting so soon there will be more episodes to enjoy. British television shows usually only run for six episodes a season which makes it far easier to watch the entire season than an it is for an American one.

Next up was The Inbetweeners which is about four boys in high school who aren't quite cool, good looking, athletic or even geeky enough. Instead they're inbetween, hence the title. The show follows them as they make their way through their last three years of school and showcases all of their mis-steps, accidents and just plain bad luck as they try to make it through life . I'm almost halfway through the third season and did I mention that it's brilliant? It's a very funny show that absolutely captures what it's like to be young and not in the "in" crowd no matter what age you are. Unfortunately it appears that the show is over however the good news is the The Inbetweeners movie is to be released next month although I'm not sure when or if it will make it across the pond and grace American theaters.

After I finish The Inbetweeners I'm going to start Psychoville which is a dark comedy about five very different and strange people who have a blackmailer in common. Sounds like fun. I also have a confession to make. I've never seen either the British or American version of The Office but I've got it in my sights as well as Extras. Then there is always Being Human which is about a werewolf and a vampire living together in a house occupied by a ghost. I've watched the American version of it but now I feel the need to watch the original show. I've heard that there will also be an American version of The Inbetweeners but for the life of me I can't see how they'll be able to do it justice. Instead of trying to bring about new and original shows it seems that most American companies would rather simply copy a British one or throw on a so called reality show (that ultimately is as real as what a growing number of American men presume their waistline to be).

As I watched these shows lately I crept into the shady remains of my memory and discovered that I seemingly had always enjoyed British humor and more importantly their television shows but had unfortunately drifted away (which seems to happen far too frequently in life) from them over the years. As like many a youth I adored The Benny Hill Show (bawdy humor mixed with scantily clad women go well with raging hormones) and then Monty Python's Flying Circus (although I'll admit that at first it was a bit over my head) and even Fawlty Towers. While I was in college The Young Ones became a favorite in our fraternity house as well as the superb cartoon Danger Mouse and since I own both on DVD I can only presume I'll be watching them soon, this time with my four year old. So it seems like now I am drifting back towards British television which can only brings about good things. After all, most of the shows are fresh and original and they aren't afraid to try something different, unlike here in the states which only want to replicate someone elses success. Still, lest you think I don't like any American shows there are some good ones like The Walking Dead that I look forward to watching. I know I've got unusual tastes for things that interest me but I suppose good shows are out there, if you look for them.

Published by Don Leach

Friday, July 1, 2011

Yesterday the wife had me digging holes in the ground in the over 100 degree weather so that she could put more of her plants in the terra firma. As is usually the case we were bickering over where to place them. My wife wanted them very close to the corners and I wanted them anywhere else. It was if we were speaking two different languages that neither of us could understand. Eventually we were able to settle on secondary locations and I was clear to finish the holes and leave her to her planting. A shower was needed to cool me off and clean me up so that I could head off to work.

Right before I got in the shower I had an epiphany. We were looking at the situation from two very different places and what the other thought didn't even register. She was looking at the aesthetic view of placement, symmetry, color and so forth and how all of that would affect the overall appearance of the yard and that was her priority. I was viewing it in a solely pragmatic way as to how it would affect me in doing yardwork and I was concerned with making my job easier, not more difficult and that was my priority. Her way while perhaps making the yard look very nice would make my job of cutting grass infinitely harder, inhibiting me from being able to make turns in the corners and limiting my effectiveness and more importantly, my speed. Believe me, I don't enjoy yardwork and it shows.

So the two of us are thinking of this in ways that are completely alien to how the other looks at it. Now that I know this about how differently we view things I need to figure out a way to apply it to everything we do. That's easier said than done and besides, just because I have the knowledge doesn't mean it will make everything go any smoother. After all, it takes two to tango and I can only attempt to control myself. Still we can hope for the best. As long as we discover these things about each other and use the knowledge accordingly in theory it can only makes things better. We'll find out about how things go in a practical sense as we stumble our way through life just like everybody else out there. So I'll just have to keep on keeping on.

Published by Don Leach