Tuesday, October 16, 2007

"You're travelling through another dimension"

Move over once. Move over twice. \\\\\
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Sometimes a tapper. Sometimes a loud clacker. Does typing reflect mood? Physicality and mood are intertwined. If’n I don’t get my daily walk in, by tarnation I kin git ornery.
**
Next week I get to teach a Twilight Zone episode as I take over the advanced class and am flying solo as a teacher. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated. The episode is “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street,” from the first season, 1959. It’s a not-so-veiled criticism of McCarthyism.
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A bookend to that is a 1964 episode, near the end of The Twilight Zone’s run, “In Praise of Pip,” where a father (played by Jack Klugman), missing his son who is serving in Vietnam, says, “My boy has no right to be there. We have not even declared war.” This was a nationally aired protest against the Vietnam War the same year as the Gulf of Tonkin incident that escalated U.S. presence in southeast Asia.
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Ms. F has an entire packet of activities for “Monsters…” including a screenplay. I will probably use this packet like I did with Freak the Mighty, teach some lessons as-is, modify others, and make up a few of my own.
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I’m still excited to teach The Twilight Zone because it is one of my favorite television shows and I’ve been working through the entire series via Netflix since the beginning of summer. I’m up to Volume 21. I think there’s close to 50, The show aired from 1959-64 and showed as many as 37 episodes a season.
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The show also connects me to over 21 years ago, when I was in 7th grade, because that is when I first really got into the show. I went through a phase of taping shows on WGN Channel 9. I couldn’t watch it when it aired because it was on at midnight. I stayed up late the occasional Friday night.
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Actually, WGN used The Twilight Zone to fill gaps in their late night/ early morning schedule. Sometimes it would be aired at midnight, others 4:30, etc. It forced me to frequently check the TV Guide each week for the right times. I often taped an infomercial, always a disappointment when anticipating “that signpost up ahead, the next stop…”
**
What a quaint concept “aired” is. I bet a single digit percentage of the population gets their television strictly over the air. My brother Ken, the bigwig Chicago architect, doesn’t get cable on the two TV’s in his apartment. But he gets 10 or 11 channels, mostly fuzzy, religious, Spanish, or all three, but also the four major networks.
**
In DeKalb there is some kind of outside frequency block. I think it’s a collaborative conspiracy of the cable company and radio stations. When I lived in Sycamore, I could get six channels (and all the networks) on a second floor apartment with rabbit ears and an attached twin antenna with one of those hoops and a dial to adjust the frequency. All the Rockford radio stations fritz out at the town limits. I hear folk in Kirkland get Rockford TV stations. Some in DeKalb must get “air” TV. I forget sometimes I live half-submerged on the bottom floor of a brick building.
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A couple years ago a windstorm blew down the broadcasting tower of the local CBS affiliate. I think it took almost a year to get it operational again. Come to think of it, I don’t remember anything about it going back on the air. For all I know, it could still be out!
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And then there’s Monday Night Football. It used to be a big deal. A rite free and open to the masses on network television. Now it’s relegated to ESPN with second-rate announcers. I don’t watch it anymore.
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And here’s where I take on the persona of cranky old man Harrumph.
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“Goldang kids these days, riding these gershflugginit skateboards and shiznit with skulls on it. Jeepers Cripes. What’s this freakzit country coming to? Joe -- fragnougat!! -- world’s most famous broken leg Theismann, on Monday Night FOOTBALL?!!”
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Old man, why you gotta be such a stoombot? Take some KAOPECTATE and go rock somewhere.
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I don’t get cable or air channels. I watch movies on my 13-inch, $90 DVD/TV combo. The TV spends its idle time on a floor table next to the microwave in the living room. I put it on a chair about three feet away from the couch when I watch it. I also watch movies and television shows on my laptop via Netflix. Ha!
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I like this arrangement. No commercials.
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Lately, it’s sucked for sports. I listen to most of the my sports, but none of the baseball playoffs are being played on radio stations I can get in my apartment. And although I talk about work a lot, I’m a mere student teacher and making no money now, so going to the bar is verboten.
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I listen to Packers games (or not, depending on what’s going on), but this season now watch the game highlights on nfl.com or packers.com. I sometimes have to endure one commercial at the beginning, but I get to see all the best plays in five minutes or less. All thrilla, no filla, beotch.
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I guess I can’t complain too much about things that used to be free and are now a given cost in day to day American life. I get free Internet access, something that many still pay for, but is becoming more widely available free of charge. Of course, my connection is spotty… all these inconsistencies the service-minded American cannot tolerate.
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My oh my what a beautiful baby
My oh me what a darling
Me oh boy don’t he know it
Charming them all with his smile
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Bring a stick for the dogs
To chew on or else…
They may turn
And chew on you instead

All these lies the old man told me
Told me with a brackish cough
And a seersucker grin
Dummy me, didn’t I believe him

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