Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Rock Feels No Pain

There isn't much that surprises me, and I pride myself on being able to handle the unexpected. To face trouble and uncertainty with a calm and detached manner is what I've trained myself to do over the years. In a crisis, emotions get in the way, and I've taught myself to set them aside when necessary. It's not that I'm indifferent or that I lack emotion; I simply know when to shut that part of me down. It's a skill that has allowed me to constantly move forward when times get rough. In such times, you can count on me to hold down the fort, to stand tall, to be a pillar to lean against. My emotions are reliably in check.

Or such was the impression I had of myself until last Sunday when word came that one of our cats was seriously ill. Suddenly faced with the realization that one of our household might not be with us much longer, I buckled. All other thoughts left my mind - job, family, friends, bills, weather, everything evaporated from my mind with this news. My one consuming thought was of the cat and a life left to live without her. I crumbled inside. Not knowing what else to do, I had a drink, and my three and a half year wagon ride was over. I cried.

It's a shock to the system to find out you aren't who you thought you were, to learn you aren't as strong as you thought yourself to be. I'm not a rock after all, and that disappoints me. There's nothing wrong with men showing their emotions, and I don't think of myself as any less manly for feeling them. What troubles me is that I cracked when I should've been solid. When one is as lacking in natural-born talents as I am, one has to find something about themselves to hold on to, and I latched on to my ability to calmly face a crisis. And it's not like I haven't experienced death before. Like most in this world I've lost family and friends and pets before, and so death is no stranger to me. Like all living things, our cats must someday die. I just thought I'd be ready when the time came, and I realize now that I'll never be ready.

Some might think I'm over-reacting, that a cat is a cat. I know this sentiment exists because people have told me as much. "It's not," I was lectured, "like a cat is a person, a child. It's a cat." Some people raise children that will grow up to be doctors and lawyers and such, while others will raise "children" that will be lions and tigers and bears. They have their family, and I have mine.

The future isn't as bleak for our cat as it was a few days ago, but the our time with her is drawing to a close. I'll buck up and show a good face because that's what I expect myself to do; inside, however, I'm in tatters.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Actors Behaving...Well, Not the Way I'd Like

A lot has happened lately that might ordinarily evoke a comment or two out of me, such as the AZ shootings, blood libel and the Week Atlanta Stood Still. I do have my opinions, but they're probably nothing very different than those forced upon you by others. No, my thoughts have been focused on the much more pedestrian but no less important departure of Steve Carell from "The Office." Apparently, he will not be finishing out the season and the last three episodes of "The Office" will be sans Michael Scott.

I think that's selfish. I mean, the fact that he's leaving the series to "focus on his movie career" is selfish enough but to not even finish the season is a slap in the face to the show's viewers. Entertainers have an obligation to entertain if they want to continue to reap the benefits of our adulation, and when the form of that entertainment is a character on which the existence of an entire series rests, well, said entertainers have an obligation, nay, a duty! to continue performing in that role. Carell OWES it to us to finish out the season! Millions of people have sacrificed 30 minutes every Thursday night to be entertained by "The Office" (not to mention countless hours of re-runs) and to have that sacrifice thrown back in our faces by Carell's departure is an act of treason. It's as though it doesn't matter to him what we want. "Howl, howl, howl, howl! O!, you are men of stones!" (That's a Shakespeare reference)

"The Office" owes its popularity to Carell's performance, and the producers and directors are fooling themselves if they believe the show can survive without Michael Scott. Television history is replete with excellent shows landing in the Nielson ratings trash heap because of acts of betrayal on the part of actors thinking they can make it big in the movies:

Northern Exposure:
Rob Morrow left to pursue a movie career, and one of the best series to grace the TV screen dissolved. Morrow's movie career was a bust and, lo and behold, he's back on TV.

The X-Files:
Special Agent Fox Mulder wanted to believe and we believed in him. David Duchovny eventually dumped the beautiful Agent Scully for Hollywood sirens, and though the series lasted a few more seasons, it was lackluster at best. So, too, was Duchovny's movie career, and he also finds himself back on TV.

The most watched show on TV for, like, eight years, CSI dried up in the Las Vegas sun when the character of Gil Grissom went in search of insects (and William Peterson went in search of a stage). Now you don't even see "CSI" advertised unless it's the Miami or NY spin-offs.

That 70's Show:
Ashton Kutcher did launch a successful career after bailing on a pretty funny show, but it certainly wasn't in the movies. He is more famous now, but we all know it's not because of his acting talents.

Add to those a string of failed movie careers by former "SNL" stars and the vast television audience is left empty-handed. Sure, it's selfish of me to think it's selfish of an actor to take his career in a new direction; I very much doubt Carell would mind if I took a step up from the academic to corporate (or CIA) library world. Then again, I'm a nobody and he's not. I'm the consumer in this relationship and being selfish is part and parcel of the role that I play. Actors should play their roles out to the end. Without Michael Scott, "The Office" won't last much longer, and we'll all eventually forget about the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin. That makes me sad. I sure hope Steve Carell can sleep at night.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

My Banned Words List

Lake Superior State University published its annual list of banished words for 2011. As a librarian, I'm supposed to be opposed to the banning of things such as books, ideas, and words, and for the most part, I am. Censorship raises my liberal hackles in much the same way freedom of speech for everyone raises the hackles of conservative pundits. Still, I find myself opposed to the use of certain words and phrases, mainly because of their rude and crude nature. If I had my way, I'd have the following familiar words banned, banished, and binned:

Recently I heard a woman tell her toy dog to go "poopsies" and it took all I had to stop myself from yelling to her that the dog doesn't know "poopsies" from "shit" and that she should grow up and use adult words. "Poop" just sounds stupid.

Whether referring to a certain part of the female body or a bumbling doofus, I don't like it and now is the only instance you will know me to write or say it. "Knockers" should go, too.

The word is as bad as the sound and that which follows. Please keep the word and action to yourself.

Men should never say it.

Both words are repulsive in their sound and imagery, especially the latter. Tanner from The Bad News Bears is perhaps the only person to use the former without sounding, well, like a booger-eating moron.

It's a toilet.

Pussy cat:
Call my cats that and you die.