There’s a particular word for the process of becoming accustomed to things. That is the one thing about getting older that I hate. I used to have an extensive vocabulary. At the moment that doggone word eludes my brain’s ability to find it; even multiple trips to the thesaurus has not helped. I can no longer pretend that I’m not getting older; when my words begin abandoning me. GRRRRRRR. All of which comes up because we are making up for lost time, sort of.
Public Broadcasting in South Texas sucks. I’m sorry, but that’s a truism. The number of stations is minimal and the programming carried on air is meager and to my mind substandard. But maybe Texas doesn’t have the grand public broadcasting tradition that Wisconsin has.
However now that we have a good connection to the InterWebs we’re able to stream whatever kind of shows we can find/afford and as a result I have been catching up on some old BBC programming. I’ve been noticing a change too; a change that I wasn’t really seeing when we were watching what was bring presented as “current programming.”
Christmas morning while it was yet too early to start prepping for dinner I turned on the TV. Flipping through the channel guide I saw three one hour long programs about the Westiminster Kennel Club, their shows from the years 2014, 2015, 2016. I like dog shows. Seeing those three programs really ticked me off.
You may or may not know that Westminster occurs every year in New York City. The public show is a two day show (whether it lasts longer for the exhibitors or not I know not). We attended the show ourselves the year that Christo & Jean did their “Gates” installation in Central Park and I loved every minute of the time we spent there. But back to what bothered me about the TV….
How do you possibly summarize a 2 day show in a one hour program. Up till a couple years ago it was possible to see a 4 or 6 hour 2-day telecast of the group judging, but to try to condense the entire event even further down — not to 1 hour, but to that portion of one hour that remains after commercials — seems almost an insult. It got me to thinking about the way everything seems to be boiled down to sound bites today.
But I’ve also been noticing how programming has changed over the years. Because of our access to streaming video we have been catching up on some old BBC programs we haven’t seen in a while. The likes of Rumpole of the Bailey and Are You Being Served and the Vicar of Dibley are always good for a few laughs. The wonderful british mysteries are always good too: Morse, Lynley, Dalgleish, Vera, Prime Suspect, you name them — they are good for a pleasant evening.
But what has been particularly noticeable seeing as we can pull up series going back to the 80’s is that there were many a murder mystery that took an entire season to tell. Those were the days. Plenty of dialogue, plenty of procedure, plenty of insight into the characters. 5, 6, 7 or even 8 episodes an hour or two hours long — plenty of time to spin a yarn worth spinning.
Maybe that’s why I’ve always liked NPR’s news coverage. I’m a long-form format guy. I like it when people take the time to cover and inspect the details. I want to know the whole story — Or as Paul Harvey might have said it, “the rest of the story…”
Special effects take our breath away nowadays. But I’m still the kind of guy who likes movies with lots of close ups, and with lots of intelligent, witty dialogue. I don’t get much of that with today’s programming. It’s still important to listen carefully to what you hear; to be a discriminating listener, and to test what you hear by the touchstone of truth as you know it.
I have long resisted reading novels that were 150 to 300 pages long. There simply isn’t enough time to develop characters you can really sink your mental teeth into in a short novel. And I hate to decide that I am an author’s fan because it’s too easy for a prolific author to get lazy about their writing. For example, over the last couple years I read several mysteries by Patricia Cornwell, and while I like some of her plot lines I don’t like the fact that she wastes so many pages in each going over various parts of her protagonist’s life that are covered in other books — and then not always getting the details write that she supposedly has written in previous books. I know it’s a lot to expect that a new novel with be… well…. new. But I’m persnickety and demanding as a customer (reader/viewer/listener).
Have a great new year season; Have a safe new year season. Watch out for the crazy’s on the road especially. I’m going to try to read my way through Palmdale’s lovely library this year — though too much reading and not enough exercise makes for a fat Peter.