Thursday, April 28, 2005

Flight into Fantasy, Television, Blogging

Stealing artifacts from the tombs of imperial Shalala enriched the rebellion, no doubt. Princess Lamama and her troops gained much needed credibility amongst the farmers. The reality of war left Her Highness contemplative, bordering on a spasm of indecision. She would never let on, though, because she refused to let her people down. No...war was inevitable.

Princess Lamama appreciated the wise, but no less daring, negotiation strategies offered by her best officer, the Flying Rakoko. She worried secretly, however, that his bindings to his unworthy family, the Stringsoms, would prove his undoing. She needed more time, a limited commodity.


M and I built our own kite yesterday to take advantage of the windy afternoon. To our delight, the little guy flew! We learned that a tailless kite means no flight, but a tail, weighed down by ribbons made from a retired pillowcase, leads to flight. We were definitely empowered with the knowledge, buoyed even. We’re gearing up to helping J with his science project about kites. The above are pictures I uploaded last night to a gallery of mine, along with some built-up captions, explorations of fantasy, about a lone Princess battling dark forces. The first picture is from earlier in the year…sorting cans from bottles for recycling, the second is our kite.


I move on to television, thinking about Simon’s very interesting response below which I can appreciate. I won’t argue against the premise that no household is improved by television. Flying a kite, reading books, building Lego houses, drawing, writing, playing tag outside, talking to one another, etc. are all preferable activities to be sure.

But…but…I love television, nevertheless. I record lots of dramatic programs and mysteries, as well as the occasional episode of “Supernanny” (for research purposes, you understand). As a family, we watch the latest movies, M and A watch their special programs, and J watches anything to do with skateboards. We do this in addition to all our other stuff. It's part of our family life.

First, it’s a learned habit – television was big in our house while I was growing up. We watched often, during dinner, in the evenings, with or without my parents. My favorite ritual took place on Sunday nights when we’d see the Disney hour, Lawrence Welk, and the National Geographic specials. We had the best time together, all five of us. Because of the t.v., my parents’ bedroom became a bastion of pleasure for us children. My mother spent a lot of time there reading, napping, knitting, crocheting, rug-making. Always with the television on. Years later, when my parents were on the verge of divorce and my father would spend time away from the house, when we children were all in college with one foot in the real world and one foot still at home, my sister and I would get food from our favorite Chinese restaurant, bring it to the house, and then arrange ourselves with drinks and dishes and sit with my mom in her room to watch whatever show was on. “Golden Girls” was our favorite program. We also had a weakness for made-for-t.v. movies. In fact, those movies were great relief for me during law school, as a break from the intensive studying.

So was born my television habit.

Secondly, it’s equivalent to comfort food – I am comforted, I escape, when I watch television. The kids go down and D and I flip on the t.v. to catch our favorites. We laugh, we cry, we snuggle. When my father died, I had a hard time sleeping so I’d turn the television on as company. I’d take a leave from grieving for just a little while that way. I continue to use the television when times are difficult.

Lastly, it’s pure entertainment. When you can’t go outside, when you’re too tired to read, it’s nice to simply “veg” and enjoy the stories.

Educational? Sometimes, but I won’t kid myself or anyone who asks. I’m rather unabashed in my love for television. Perhaps you can tell, perhaps my vocabulary isn’t as sophisticated because I’ve abandoned heavy literature or non-fiction studies for “Desperate Housewives.” Perhaps I can tell when I give up the deeper thought in writing for a lighter, shorter version. I don’t know…all I do know, is that Simon is right. I don’t kill the television because *I* can’t give it up. So there.


On blogging…why? As I said before, I like to practice my writing, to keep it up, no matter what it is. I’ve totally been enjoying the comments I get (I won’t say I’m a comment-a-holic, not yet). I see this blog as a place where I get to explore “me” in my rather challenging environment. It’s a place to vent a little. Perhaps, ultimately, I just want to wave my hand and jump up and down…much like people sometimes do in a crowd when a television news camera aims in their direction, while taping a reporter.

Hi! Yoo hoo! Hi everyone! Look at me!


Princess Lamama gave up her dreams of war when she lost crucial support from the farmers - she couldn't fight what amounted to a cult mentality. The Valley Shalala would have to wait for freedom.


Gothamimage said...

Practice makes perfect.

BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

Love your analogy, that television is like junk food...Yes, it is conforting, addicting, and sometimes not good for us!

A day flying kites sounds so beautiful. Enjoy your child, and the child in you as well.

Tamar said...

Adriana, I adore your discussion about television. As a child development and family guidance expert, I believe in: "Take my advice, I don't use it!" Which my favorite Grief Counselor and Doctoral advisor always says. The way you approach television is perfect for you and your family with fond memories, great family moments and fun! My son (the gorgeous, sensitive, talented jazz pianist and soon-to-be family therapist) watched a lot of television when he was young. I would sit with him and talk about it as he watched so as to keep it critical and not so addictive. As a young man of 32 today he doesn't have one. Has chosen to live without it for many years now. Each person has his/her own way of working through whatever it is.

For me, the blog is a great way of sharing, revealing, putting my "stuff" out there in black and white so that I can look at it a bit distanced from myself. I work out things that way and sometimes it is purely cathartic. Comments are fine but I wouldn't say I was a comment junky either. Yeah, and I use the blog for writing, pure and simple.

As for Princess Lamama, the Flying Rakoko ... words fail me ... a I look ahead to more juicy tales of imperial Shalala.

Simon Kenton said...

" We do this in addition to all our other stuff."

TV alone has no opportunity cost? This can be true, in the sense that you can multitask it - watch while on the treadmill, or do as your mother did, and have it on while she made rugs. (It's worth the asking: she ended her tv time with a rug; what do you and your kids end yours with?) I think generally that the statement is poppycock - in reality it's tv or kites, tv or books, tv or conversation, tv or getting out to identify constellations. But it can be true - you can do tv and do at least some other things.

But I think there's a subtler danger here. You can best multitask tv when you make it part of the ambience. You've seen them, you may be them: a family with a tv murmuring in every room; as people pass through they glance, press a remote's button, wander off. Maybe this is the healthiest use of tv: at least you are not excusing the dismal level of acting, the stunningly insulting level of the commercials. But people who cultivate that level of awareness - probably better called a level of non-awareness - in response to their tv are destroying their faculty for engaged watching, for participating in the dramatic arc of a show. This is easily gaged by the remote-irritation response: people who actively _watch_ tv are pissed when someone wanders by and punches up a new channel. And it's not just the rudeness, it's the destruction of engagement.

If you and your family each average 2 hours a day, in the 18 years you have your kids, you'll have dedicated 65,000 hours to it. Even if you don't think it aesthetically destructive, it's worth asking, as I did above, what rugs you are going to be able to show for that devotion.

The other question I'd ask is, given that we may well get to render God an accounting of our time, do you want to state that you have shaped your life on the ethos that pours from your screen, night after night?

Adriana Bliss said...

Whisperingcampaign: Indeed!

Barbara: Thank you...and yes, I do make all efforts to enjoy the children...and let myself be a child with them. :)

Tamar: my brief, dip-of-a-toe-into-water, foray into the why of blogging was inspired by your posts on blogging. It was late, though, and I was sleepy, and thus...came out a little less than what I intended. LOL As to t.v., I'm always seeking to lessen our time. Television has changed over the years obviously, in some good ways and in some bad ways. One thing nice is that there's always something gentle and inoffensive to catch when you want it. While we watched, we had to wait for times which tended to make it more of an addiction - IOW, we'd freak out if we got pulled away because that was it! The show wouldn't ever be shown again, ever! Not to mention the fact that we'd watch programs meant for adults (dramas) more often because there was simply nothing on for the kids. We like it, we talk about what it is we're watching. I notice the kids tend to walk away from it to play more often than not. For that reason, because I see them rather careless about their watching, I don't worry too much.

As to Valley daughter loves it (the version I tell her when we're going to bed). This morning as a matter of fact I heard her setting the table with her play dishes and saying, "We have to make room for Princess Lamama and her sister Shalala." :)

Simon, your points are well taken. Thank you for the time and effort in your argument. I have to say our t.v. watching varies. Sometimes, during the day, the t.v. is that murmur in the den, a kind of music that catches an eye every so often as the kids move from one activity to another, as I cook, as I write or talk on the phone. At other times, we watch for story, we follow along and talk about it as the plot progresses. Still other times, it's just entertaining - something that makes us laugh. Sure it can be inane, but it's fun. We all have fun with it and I find that time to be pleasant. I do hear your point - as I said, no doubt the time could be better spent. Our lives will not be lessened for missing a half-hour with Sponge Bob in favor of a half-hour playing a game or reading a story or devising more of Princess Lamama's adventures or Sam and Jam's hijinks.

So...there. I can only hope to be more cognizant and "make good choices."

Adriana Bliss said...

Addendum: the last picture is of my mother, father, and brother watching some special 3-D program. This picture always cracks me up mostly because of my father - that shot is so HIM in his goofy mode, intentionally looking "intense." We have another that I can't find...that I fear lost...with my sister and I on the floor, wearing those glasses, too.

MatzahNacho said...

Right before I dropped in here I was on the phone with my mom, one of the topics was television. She was reading part of a book written by a friend of hers in which he describes growing up watching some of the same shows I grew up watching. Back then television was a huge part of my life. Its significance has diminished steadily the last couple decades. Now I watch relatively little television.

The most dramatic difference between the last several years and all the time before is that when I'm not watching TV I turn it off. I find that for me I see very real negative side-effects from trying to do several things at once, like a shorter attention span, lack of concentration on the priority activity, and lack of pleasure and sensitivity to the real physical world, the computer partially to blame for the last one. Do we have the patience to play solitaire with a real deck of cards anymore? Does anyone here ever crave the physical sensation of shuffling the deck?

I find it difficult to fully enjoy anything in the moment when my attention isn't focused on it. It doesn't surprise me at all that so many children are having attention problems in a world where so many are online, on the phone, watching television, flicking through hundreds of channels, eating, and attempting to study, all at the same time, and even before today's kids are old enough to start doing this they would have been affected by watching their parents do it.

Even something as simple as television viewing alone has changed so much. When I was growing up we turned on a show and watched it and paid attention to it. There was no remote or VCR.

Anonymous said...

Thank God for TV trays...
this was great, I'm all about TV!
It's certainly not to an addictive level but I go crazy for my Lifetime movie. You know the one about a young pregnant woman who finds out she was adopted and that her dog has been abused for years by the local pharmacist who turns out to be her mother's lost brother from Mexico! Now that's good TV!

Chip said...

I applaud you Adriana for blatant honesty. I think that’s why I keep coming back to this blog.

As an American Soldier in Iraq working as the Communications’ IT NCO for a battalion I can say that my section and I have provided multiple levels of radio communications, satellite telephone service, satellite Internet service, secure Internet services, support for client laptops and workstations, and a host of other non-technical soldier related tasks. All the above accomplishments were “expectations” -- expectations of ourselves, our soldiers, and the senior leadership for whom we answer to.

We only became “battalion hero’s” about two months ago when we cracked the nut on how to provide cable television to the soldier’s living quarters.

Yes, sending and receiving a secure transmission to and from higher headquarter is important. But it’s been done by soldiers for over a hundred years. It’s expected of us. Only now, see who gets a knock on the door at 1:00 AM if the Sergeant Major’s cable signal isn’t coming in clearly (true story).

TV is a part of our culture. It allows us to “root for the home team” without fighting the traffic. A way to collectively, yet privately, morn the loss of a President or a Pope. We can bring in the New Year and watch the ball drop, or attend the Thanks Giving Day Parade without traveling to New York (and yes, I’ve been to New York City and attended both events -- I’ll stay at home and watch from the comfort of my couch from now on thank you). TV allowed us to come together as a Nation on September 11th. And less dramatically, it allowed us to say goodbye to Seinfeld, Friends, and MASH.

TV is an important part of our lives. It sometimes allows us to become a part of the significant events that shape our world. But more often than not, it’s a way to wind down after a long stress filled day. It allows us to shut the brain off for a while and escape into another world. TV doesn’t make people idiots; people can be idiots all by themselves – as is evident from our buddy Simon.

dayna said...

Well I love reading your blog even if I don't always comment so I'm glad you're "practicing" your writing.

Adriana Bliss said...

I remember that movie, dear Anon (are you my long lost sister?)! I loved it! Lyndsay "Bionic Woman" Wagner at her best!

Dayna, you're very sweet. :)

And Chip, thank you for your unique perspective on television. You're in tune with what I see in t.v., that it's like comfort food. I'm not surprised to hear that the men and women who are in the service so far away, and under such dangerous circumstances, would be comforted by familiar programming, by...the boob tube.

As to Simon, be nice! :)

Lori said...

Love the pictures, bud! :)

As for TV...well, you know me. I'm right there with ya. I gotta have my tube. I CAN live without it, certainly...and of course, there are much more meaningful things one could do with the time spent watching TV. I'm sure I could have baked a million cookies, painted a thousand pictures, and written several lengthy novels by now. TV rots your brain. Hurts your eyes. Gives you ADD. Yeah...I got all that. But y'know...I watched an awful lot of tube as a kid. And I still managed to do pretty well in school (and I didn't have ADD, either).

Now...I'm not saying that anybody should be parked in front of the thing 24/7, of course not. But I'm also not going to say that TV's the world's greatest evil. I mean, sure, a lot of what's on it is crap...and trying to sift through it all can be an aggravating experience that makes you wonder what the hell you're paying the cable company for. But when it comes right down to it, I love to get into a good story. And I CAN still find them on TV. Like you said, bud, it's comforting. There's a lot to be said for that.

Adriana Bliss said...

Matzanacho, very true about children having ADD - so true! There's so much to do now, so many things to distract a child, it's no wonder they cannot focus on what's important.

LOL Lori - it's good to have you sitting on the couch next to me! You said it so well, "But when it comes right down to it, I love to get into a good story." Yes, that's's a little of why people enjoy the sensationalized news events. On some level, it's a "good story." We're waiting there, watching CNN, waiting for the ending.

Simon Kenton said...

"As to Simon, be nice! :)"

I would of course expect that if I fail in courtesy on your blog, by direct insult or through losing control of my tone, you would remove the post and ban me. In the listservs I have majordomoed, this is the basic rule, and it is one I have enforced many times, including against myself.

But I have never enforced or submitted to prior censorship; and won't. This will be my last comment here.

Adriana Bliss said...

Oh dear, Simon, I think you misunderstood my words - my comment was directed to Chip, not to you. I asked that Chip (a dear friend of mine) be nice to you in his expression of his disagreement. You were fine (goodness, my entire tv discussion was spurred on by your comment). I enjoy your posts and would be sorry to not read your perspectives here.