Dear batchmates, kabayan and friends :
When you have time clearing your inbox, looking sideways for online blinks on your contacts list, and scrounging around for supposedly life-changing books you’ve always wanted to read (but never went beyond Page 1), you know you have a lot of time on your hands.
It’s quite a ways from getting by on 5 hours beddy-bye time, changing work skeds in the wink of a bloodshot eye, and forever on standby for emergency shifts and freezing late-night overtime (the range this week : a goose-pimply 4-6 degrees Celsius), but as they say, when you journey on the sails of life, who knows where the four winds will bring you?
Forcibly or not, these days are ripe for rearranging furniture, cleaning out your moldy cupboards, and whisking away the cobwebs that clutter your dusty bookshelves and bureaus. For the OC cleaners and sorters out there, we know you are aghast at our wayward unhousebroken habits, but for us, it’s just a reminder that wherever you are, you are home sweet home by keeping it just the way it is : once a packrat, always a packrat.
Inevitably, the magnet that draws your attention, for the simple reason that it assaults the two major senses ( and indirectly another two ) is the most momentous invention of the 20th century, so central to human existence that we don’t even need to mention it here, you know what it is.
For those of us in the workforce who punch in a more-or-less crowded workweek, and for whom there are a very limited number of hours with which to do what we truly love, after the essentials, incidentals and eventuals, it is a fact of life that we still devote at least an hour or two daily to wallowing in front of the telly, such a way of life it is.
Like billions of others, we have our preferences and quirks when it comes to viewing the idiot box ( no offense meant ); we just wonder, voyeuristically, how it compares with others.
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We’ve heard somewhere that comedy is nothing more than irony delivered in either an elegant or shocking way. Nowhere is this more evident than in our two favorite comedy shows. We’ve lots of ha-ha-ha generators, but nothing gets us hysterical more than Two And A Half Men and Big Bang Theory, which are so popular they are aired on FreeTV twice weekly in our neck of the woods, albeit current season episodes are shown only once a week.
The bread-and-butter laughs from the first show seem to derive from its irony of men no longer straining to show a PC face of being monogamous, sexually conservative, anatomically restrained, etc. Because truly, despite (or because of) most men denying their true selves, we, most of us, are funniest when we are pared down into our honest core.
And the two main characters in this sibling sit-com are brazenly honest, but in different ways. If he would have his way, Charlie Sheen’s character (fittingly named Charlie) would bed a different girl every night, sleep all day, and drink himself to a stupor whenever he feels like it. (Amazingly, in a case of life imitating art, Sheen has been finding himself in all sorts of real-life jams that his 2 1/2 Men persona would have little difficulty getting into.) On the opposite end of the spectrum, his brother Alan (Jon Cryer) does all the right things, place women on a pedestal, denies himself carnal pleasures for all the wrong reasons, and still ends up the loser.
Amazing that we find all this funny, but we invariably watch at least one of the two shows week in, week out.
As mentioned, Big Bang is another variation on the irony theme : that nerds and scholarly, introverted types can actually be cool and emulative. Not that it’s that difficult, as the sit-com confines itself to the tiny world shared by a theoretical physicist, an applied physicist, an aeronautical engineer, and a particle astrophysicist where of course being an egghead is king, the obscure is commonplace, and the lamer the hobby, the better.
We’re not ashamed to admit it, we found kinship with the Trekkie, the StarWars Universe enthusiast, the action-figure connoisseur, the comic book collector, the sci-fi buff and memorabilia hunter, and all other underground and non-mainstream pursuits the main characters enjoyed. That the bespectacled sidekick of Sheldon (he’s the only guy whose name we remember) found a hot girlfriend was just a bonus for us : even wimps of the world, given enough time, can win the pretty girl.
Unsurprisingly, and for lack of memory we won’t mention him by name (changed our mind, Chuck Lorre), we found out that the creator/s of these two shows were one and the same person. Either it’s genius, or the characters are just different parts of the same personality. Unlikely, but not impossible. Go figure.
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It’s probably a simplistic observation, but one that we can’t avoid making : where in previous decades, TV crimefighting focused almost solely on the police and investigative branches, today the limelight is on everyone else on the good side : the forensics staff, the criminal psychologists, scientists, even profilers and psychic sleuths get in on the action. It’s almost as if there was a concerted effort to keep the cops and dick tracys out of the center of attention, after years of hogging the spotlight.
One only has to list the casual viewing choices we make on a random night we have disposable hours for the boob tube : CSI (original and all spinoffs), Criminal Minds, The Mentalist, Lie to Me, Medium, Psych, Numb3rs and Monk. Except for the second and the last on the list, none of the title characters on these shows have gone through regular police training or have entertained any thoughts of becoming a policeman. But just the same they are in the vanguard of the battle against crime.
If we had the chance to live life over, that would probably be part of our vocation. Fighting the baddies without actually getting our hands bloody, or getting involved in the wetworks. Sort of like being a cool superhero, without tripping on your cape or losing the anonymity of your bespectacled, phone booth – oriented alter ego.
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We have a confession to make, regarding the 2010 NBA Finals, which besides the few shows we’ve mentioned above, take up the lion’s share of our precious little viewing time.
The games the Celtics won against L.A., we watched every game live (or slightly delayed), and when we couldn’t, saw it on the rare reply at night, followed it up on nba.com, and read all related blogs.
As soon as breaking news overtook us, the Boston losses went abandoned and/or unwatched, we imposed a blog blackout on ourself on internet, and acted like we weren’t a fan.
In short, we are what you might call the sunshine fan. Shoulder-to-shoulder with our favorite team when it wins, and abandoning them as soon as they lose. Not something to be proud of, but that’s how we have evolved, a sad commentary on the fickleness, selective amnesia, and disloyalty of the sports fan on TV.
We sometimes rationalize it (our behavior) by saying that we can’t take the agony of watching our fave team lose, or that we don’t need the stress, but who are we fooling? No self-respecting fan can do that, celebrate with their team only during the victories (and conveniently disappearing during the defeats) and continue staring at the mirror without feeling hollow and demeaned.
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A last word. Nothing compels the casual viewer, in almost every Western or Westernized culture, like team sports. And team sports cannot help but ultimately be commercialized into league sports, which devolves into professional media-supported sports.
Someone better tell big-time and big-league sports, specifically the NBA, though, that it will get extinct and bought out by its bigger-than-life athletes, if the trend of teams dealing with one-player franchises (and in effect ceding control to the latter) is allowed to become a distinct possibility.
And while they’re at it, has everyone forgotten that in sports like basketball, there are 30 teams in the league, and every season produces only ONE champion and 29 also-rans? Everybody’s turning out to be sore losers more and more. If fans understand that only one team gets to shine at the expense of all others, why can’t the pros and the team owners?
Thanks for reading !