Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Space Between

How many people can you name that persist tirelessly on something for six years despite extreme discouragement? Not many, correct? There is a collective body though that has done this and is finally getting its good karma after relative anonymity on the tv circuit. This is the cast of Scrubs.
Lately there has been an influx of episodes that any channel surfer could notice. Usually this brings a mixed response from tv watchers. Some move all other obligations so every episode can be screened, others roll their eyes and -dare I say it?- do something other than watch tv (see reading, exercise, socializing -basically living). Mostly, everyone should follow the latter route, but this time is different. Scrubs is finally getting the recognition it deserves, and the quality of entertainment television has risen.
In a time of "whitty" (corny), "addictive" (mind-rotting), "doctor dramas" (crap), such as Grey's Anatomy or the equally subpar Laguna Beach or The OC, it's good to know that some primetime writers are more than entertainment whores willing to degrade the screen with any impossible situation to gain viewers. No, the writers for Scrubs have stuck to their guns. For the past few years they've melded slapstick comedy with sarcastic humor and albeit fictitious but insightful situations and for much of those years the show was relatively anonymous. Scrubs recognizes the doubt a doctor feels when treating a patient or the profound blame they also do when one dies under that doctor's scrutiny. This doesn't mean there is a ten or fifteen minute ending when one ridiculously beautiful/handsome doctor sulks next to the corpse, on Scrubs an episode has concluded with each doctor being followed around by the ghost of a patient they've lost, meant to symbolize that they carry the patient's death with them always. Relationships, romantic or platonic, are also approached and not from a "will they get together, no they won't, then they finally do" perspective. Scrubs confronts the loneliness, insecurity, and heartbreak that most romantic participants feel, sometimes with a humorous tone sometimes with a serious one or the mean-spirited comments overheard when nobody is supposed to be listening.
And it's funny! Slapstick and sarcasm come together in a truly wonderful union. Some of the best comedic moments hail from Dr. Perry Cox (John C. McGinley), a ranting "tough-guy" senior attending physician at Sacred Heart Hospital (the show's setting). Here is one such glorious spew:

"Fine, I'll go ahead and tell you how it ends. Dr. Phil Says: "And, that working out...for you?" And the big FAT lady cries "Wah." ALRIGHT, I'm sure you're wondering why I accepted the position of residency director considering my disdain for, well, all of you. Is it the extra four dollars a week in my paycheck or is it the fact that I finally have a chance to make a difference in this godforsaken hellhole. It's all about the four dollars, trust me. And seeing as my money is contingent on you lemmings actually doing your jobs, I would say that now is a pretty good time for you to scurry on back to work so that I can continue to afford the anti-depressants that keep me so damn jolly. Ahahahaha. GO!!"

or a personal favorite:

"...And bam! The shine's off the apple. And that's when you find out that that pretty little girl you married isn't a pretty little girl at all. No, she's a man-eater. And I'm not talking about the "whoa-whoa, here she comes" kind of man-eater. I'm talking about the kind that uses your dignity as a dishtowel to wipe up any shreds of manhood that might be stuck inside the sink. Of course, I may have tormented her from time to time; but, honest to God, that's what I thought marriage was all about. So much so that, by the end of that relationship, I honestly don't know who I hated more - her or me? I used to sit around and wonder... why our friends weren't trying to destroy each other, like we were. And here, it turns out, the answer's pretty simple: They weren't unhappy. We were."

All the characters are three-dimensional, they have feasible personalities and interact with each other in unique ways. A regular subscriber to the show described it as "a tongue and cheek comedy that combines every day situations with the extreme environment of interns and residents, finishing up with what I would actually call pretty profound introspection and reflection."
Something about 20 minutes of humor makes the other 10 minutes of drama (and commercials) go down the old mental throat ever so smoothly. After all, it's the "the space between the tears we cry" which "is the laughter keeps us coming back for more." In describing the show, those Dave Matthews Band lyrics are as impeccable as the successful blend of satire and depth that Scrubs perfectly achieves.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Who Loves the Sun?

"Who loves the Sun? Who cares that it makes plants grow? Who cares what it does since you broke my heart?"
--"Who loves the Sun" by The Velvet Underground

Enter Spring with all its wonder. Enter the cool, refreshing breeze. Enter an ever optimistic Sun. Enter girls in tank tops and summer skirts. Enter frolicking.
It's all so disgusting isn't it?
Despite its reputation, Spring doesn't act as an aphrodisiac uniting otherwise singular souls in long overdue relationships. But it does lift burdens, brighten moods, and lure the populace out of their respective hovels and caves.
A freshman skipped his calculus class to listen to music, soak up the sun, and watch the birds flutter around from the open window of his dorm.
Another freshman was in total awe that Earth once again permitted her to walk the streets without protective covering, "It's absolutely amazing! finally I can walk to class without my face freezing."
Nothing besides the weather changes though. Employees still punch-in in the morning and count the seconds until they can punch out. Students still squeeze in a few more minutes of sleep by slamming their ringing alarms against the wall. The world still turns in the same way it did during Winter. But it's changes like these that make everything a little easier. People need something to celebrate, something to look forward to, something to hate and something to love. Spring is something to both look forward to as it nears and celebrate when it arrives.
A small minority of the local populace, one self-proclaimed complainer among them, are slightly disappointed with the Spring weather. This is it? Just warmer weather, bluer sky, more comfortable journey to and from class?
After years of the same reaction on the same type of day it's probably better to just appreciate it for what it is. If we don't enjoy the good -but not great- day then there are even fewer reasons to look forward and celebrate.
If you can, go forth, lay down your usual desires, worries, and obligations -even for a little bit. Spring is partially wonderful because it's a time of renewal and change for the better. Even as the day to day operations don't change it's still a fine time to change an attitude or behavior.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Maiden Voyage

I feel it appropriate that for my the maiden voyage of this blog to clarify its purpose: I decided to make a blog to help filter out a great deal of my wandering thoughts. I usually am pondering three things at once so with a blog those proud few who do read it can understand why I act the way I do and what I'm babbling about most of the time. Ideally this will be a forum for profound political and social thought. I do plan on writing about my political views, my musings on society and people, and anything else I deem noteworthy. Nothing I write here is meant to persuade or offend. My posts and the responses are all meant to be comparisons of ideas, nothing else. Hopefully my thoughts will entertain you few honorable souls who are so bored you say "lets see what Daniel is thinking"; most likely you'll get bored and this blog will fade away but who knows?

This is the topic of my first inkling:

Barack Obama

I am a staunch democrat. I uphold democratic ideals and actively vote. 2008 will be my first presidential election and I'm pretty sure I will vote for Obama. I'll admit that initially I felt obligated because not only is he from my neighborhood but for a number of years (his years of anonymity) my parents were close friends with him and his wife. We had the Obamas over for dinner once or twice. I bet many in Hyde Park secretly feel the same way.
I decided to question my presidential choice like I do every other belief and actually concluded that Obama is still the man! Hilary has a great deal of strengths that's true. She's a woman in a field dominated by men, she's experienced, savvy, smart, familiar. She's not appealing though. There's something about her that's very rough, also very safe. I link these two adjectives together when I see her: safely rough. Her experience is from a different time though. A time of economic prosperity and comparative peace. She represents all the democratic ideals too. The problem with her is the solution that Obama carries. Obama is cautious. He never jumps into anything rashly. He demonstrated caution and thoughtful reflection when the nation urged him to run for president. Others would have gotten drunk off of the praise. He is very cautious in the policies he supports. Obama recognizes that he's got a clean slate right now and that's a very rare thing in politics. Most politicians, even the best, have a little dirt, a few skeletons. Obama, not so much. Basically, his ignorance is his strength. He's a politician with fresh ideas and a cautious approach. It has been eight years since we saw such a figure. Our Commander-in-Chief should always be such a person. I think that Obama will retain an open mind and always choose discussion, persuasion, and inclusion over force.
Lately he's received his first negative media attention. Is he black? He says he is. He looks black. He has always presented himself as black. He has always felt african-american. I say he is black. Genetically he's as black as I am. I consider myself biracial by the same method he considers himself black. He asked who he was, who he related to, where and how he felt comfortable. Obama chose to associate with african-americans. When asked race he checks black. With this comes both blessings and curses. He has a culture he can fight for and relate to. He also must consider how much harder it is to get a cab in New York because he's black. He has never called himself black to gain votes and if he were to suddenly change his racial association he would receive more criticism. Not that it matters but this blog endorses Obama.