Sunday, June 26, 2011

Too many TV shows with predictable outcomes

My spouse was watching a movie a few weeks ago (on the small TV in the kitchen that we use when washing the dishes), in which a group of teenagers were riding a school bus on their way to an non-school event. I could hear them making mindless chatter from another room of the house. I wondered why he was watching such a silly movie until I walked in the room and saw the Syfy logo in the bottom right corner.

"Oh, they're going to be attacked by aliens," I said. "Or ghosts. Or the hotel bathroom is a portal to another dimension. Or all of that."

If it had been Chiller I assumed the blonds/cheerleaders among them would be murdered by the end of the movie, probably by a backwoods miscreant. If it had been Lifetime, one of the girls would be pregnant and determined to raise the baby on her own. If it was CBS (other than on one of the nights it shows silly sitcoms), one of the boys would murder one of the girls or one of the girls would murder another girl and the bulk of the show would be about the murder investigation, with gruesome details. On Style, they'd be going for a group, pre-wedding makeover.

There used to be a time when you could be surprised by the outcome of a movie on TV, when labels/logos weren't stamped on every screen. TV has become so predictable and so segregated now. I have access to hundreds of cable shows now and yet I rarely watch TV (unless I am washing the dishes)—none of it really appeals to me anymore, perhaps because I am rarely surprised or excited by anything there.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

There are some deaths that obit writers must look forward to...

"As a writer, director and producer, Leonard Stern was a legendary (noun) in show business. He had an (adjective) career that took him to (geographic place) with (celebrity name). Fond of (article of clothing), standing (a number) feet tall with a gray (body part), he (verb) more than a share of (noun), including (liquid)."

[from the obituary,  Leonard Stern, TV writer and producer who co-created Mad Libs, dies at 88, in today's Washington Post]

Friday, June 3, 2011

The writer plants a garden

I haven't written much in the last couple of weeks because I've been spending all my free time trying to create a garden (or a few reasonable facsimiles of such).

It's been so hot here lately that I race against the impending sun, working steadily from 8:00 until about 11:00 am—and then the sun rushes out of the shadows. Immersed in the heat and humidity (we've had several 100 degree or near-100 degree days), I retreat to the house, busy with necessary work.

Yet the sun is coy—it hides behind tall oaks in the neighbor's yard at key times throughout the day, depriving edible plants of sufficient light to thrive and grow in open spots. So I tore out part of my backyard where the sun lingers longer than anywhere else and put in a tiny garden —and doubled up use of that space by hanging homemade upside-down planters above it (see above—no it doesn't look that pretty). Elsewhere, I've put in shade-loving plants, nurturing them with composted manure, mulch and water.

The urge to do this is greater than the urge to sit at a keyboard right now. I know that July is coming, too late for most planting (though it's already too late to plant most things—any new plant in the ground requires a pledge of sufficient watering).

I suppose I could say at this point how gardening is like writing, in that, you weed out the unnecessary, you focus on one project at a time, you nurture what you've written/planted. Maybe how you garden is comparable to how you write. I hate to weed—specifically, I hate to take out seedlings even in a crowded pot, a Sophie's Choice decision for which plants get to survive. So, sometimes, my plants choke together, all surviving but none thriving exactly, until I finally snip off seedlings to eat or, worse, transplant a select few with a teaspoon, urging them into new ground. I simply cannot tear out a seedling and throw it away.

I've got lots of words in notebooks everywhere. Some have been transplanted and have grown to full size, but most are crowded together, static and puny. They'll have to stay that way for a while longer, I've got thyme to transplant and a blueberry bush to put in.