Wednesday, June 28, 2017

"A Life Lesson Learned Young (Though I Am Not Sure How Young)"

I could have been nine; I could have been eleven. 

I have supporting evidence saying it could have easily been either of them. 

One thing’s for certain.

It could not have been both of them.

It’s infuriating.  It’s like there is so little space left in my brain, different but similar experiences are now conflated together, doubling up in my personal “Memory Bunk.”

Why can’t they be separate?

Oh, well…wait.  One more thing before I start.  I promise it’ll be short.  (That was me, talking to myself.)

The following anecdote happened to a fellow cabin mate at Camp Ogama when we were either nine or eleven years old.  His name was Jerry Wiseman.  Dollars to donuts – whatever that means, besides two “D” words shoehorned together – I’ll bet Jerry Wiseman doesn’t remember this story. 

And I do? 

Why am I retaining other people’s experiences, and they’re not?  (By which I do not mean they are not retaining my experiences but that they are not retaining their own.  Just to be clear about that.)

Working Hypothesis As To Why I Remember Things And Other People Don’t:  

They’re them and I’m me.

Moving….thankfully…along…

Our cabin is on a canoe trip, headed for Antler Island, as the fish swims, a nine-or-so-mile paddle from our camp.  Minus a portage beside “the Rapids”, where everything has to be lugged across an inconveniently situated sliver of land separating two canoeable bodies of water.  (Unable to bear the heaviness of a pack, I am generally given the job of carrying the paddles and/or the “Medicine Kit”, a metal fishing tackle box containing aspirins, various salves and Ace Bandages, a task appearing deceptively easy but it’s not.)

We arrive at our destination and set up for the sleepover.  Campers are dispatched to collect kindling for the fire we will cook our food over – I am retroactively salivating over grilled steaks. 

(Coming back from the surrounding treescape, when I was asked why I had returned empty-handed, I replied, “I couldn’t find any wood.”  I was not a popular camper.)

Jumping ahead, after a night where a bear ate our salami, our counselors announced a surprise post-breakfast excursion.  Indian artifacts had reportedly been discovered on Antler Island, and we would be trekking out to find more.

“Yay!”

(Unbeknownst to us, the counselors had previously gone ahead, salting the terrain with souvenir – Read:  “tourist-store bought” – arrowheads, so we could excitedly find them and then tell our parents that we loved camp and we wanted to come back.)

We line up single-file in front of a rudimentary, forest-blazed trail, Jerry Wiseman in the back, and me, one camper in front of him.  Jerry Wiseman is an amiable cabin-mate.  Though we are not exactly friends, “marking on the curve”, since I had no actual friends, Jerry Wise was my best pal on the canoe trip.  

We head out, singing “Val D’ree, Val D’rah”, or, since we were after Native Canadian artifacts:

“Indians are high-minded
Bless my soul, they’re double-jointed
They climb trees and don’t mind it
All day long.”

I have no idea what that means. 

Anyway…

Really?  Every one of them is “double-jointed”?

Anyway, again…

We are bopping along the trail, visions of arrowheads dancing in our heads, when

Jerry Wiseman gets stung by a bee.

How do you figure that?  The last guy in the line.  Everyone passes by the same spot.

Jerry Wiseman gets stung by a bee.

We immediately return to our “Base Camp”, where a counselor ministers to Jerry’s discomfort.  (Aided by the salve from the “Medicine Kit” someone had selflessly carried across the portage.)

Amiable Jerry Wiseman feels better.  Having suffered the injury, he is given the honor of deciding what to do next.

“I think we should go”, decides Jerry Wiseman.

Okay.  “Three cheers” for Jerry Wiseman.

Assembled in the exact order as before, myself, second from the end, Jerry Wiseman, holding up the rear, we are back on the trail.  A minute or two later...

Jerry Wiseman gets stung once again.

Sorry about that chuckle.  (You might want to check yourselves for a similar reaction.)

Why the incongruous response?  Is it Schadenfreude?   Is it that I was a mere “one camper away” from being in Jerry Wiseman’s swollen and devastated condition?  Is it an unspoken awareness that, our beliefs to the contrary, the world we live in is agonizingly unfair?

My guess is it’s all of them.

But the reason I remember this story is because of the third one.

Lesson assiduously learned, age nine or possibly eleven:

Paraphrasing what they say after a city is visited by a terrible terrorist attack,

In a random universe, potentially, and possibly inevitably – and deep down we know it –


We are all Jerry Wiseman.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

"Stagecraft Vs. Screencraft"

 When the onstage Oscars presenter announces the winner for Best Actor or Actress, somewhere in America an editor is smirking.


We’d had an uneven experience, attending two theatrical productions on consecutive nights.  Alone a daunting L.A. accomplishment due to the cautionary word:  Traffic.  No new freeways built in fifty years; ten times as many people driving the thoroughfares. 

Message to The Easily Frustrated:  “Stay home.”

We didn’t.  Because we’re courageous.  And also desperately bored, television being, um… is it possible they miss me?  And jettisoned others of my comedic ilk who could arguably do better?

Just wondering…

Anyway, seeing two plays in rapid succession brought to mind the identifiable contrast between stage acting and acting in movies, which is not just “different”, it’s easier.

“Easier”, mostly.  Though not, admittedly, entirely.

Notwithstanding our minimal enthusiasm for the first play – Dry Land – even there I nonetheless marveled at the actors’ ability to remember all their lines in the correct order, plowing admirably ahead – sans intermission – without a single, “Can we stop for a second?  I forgot where we are.” 

There was also, as we sat watching, credible, escalating character development.  We witnessed the emerging “take charge” maturity of the teenaged character facilitating the “do-it-yourself” emergency pregnancy termination, and the escalating discomfort of teenager in labor.  (I think this play seriously got to me on some level; I can’t seem to stop thinking about it.  And not just because of the ninety-eight dollar – for two – ticket price we coughed up to watch a simulated abortion.  Although Dry Land may have lacked sufficient insight and layering, it still somehow viscerally hit home.  Now, returning gratefully to the point…)

Why do I say movie acting is easier than stage acting?

Because it is.

And wherefrom my sustaining evidence for this contentious conjecture?

Wherefrom right here:
More stage actors are dying to do movies than there are movie actors are dying to do plays.  And it’s not about money; big stars can score financially anywhere.  They just don’t want to do theater.  

Movie actors may pretend to want to do theater, encouraging approaching playwrights to “Call my agent”, then hurriedly instructing their agents, “Tell them I’m busy.”

The writer you are now reading asserts – with neither assiduous research nor anecdotal corroboration, he just believes it to be true – that the majority of movie actors are frankly terrified of going onstage, minus the movie world’s comforting “protection.”  Bad enough stage acting requires you to memorize your whole part at one time, there is no rescuing “Take Two.”  What you do is what you did.

Also, unlike theater, whose action proceeds seamlessly from “Curtain up” to “Curtain down”, movies are shot piecemeal, dozens of scenes – as well as alternate performances – yielding hundreds, possibly thousands, of (now) digitally-recorded fragments, later scrupulously assembled, conjuring the magical illusion of natural continuity. 

Movies – and, to today’s point, performances – are made – and regularly “saved” – in the editing room.  Hence, revisiting my opening sentence, editors are going,

“Mr. ‘Best Actor’?  You ought to see what we cut out!”

That’s how movies work.  “Best Performance” on the screen – a revealingly alternate scenario on the cutting room floor. 

“BEST ACTOR”:  “I’m actually surprised I was that good.”

“INSIDER” EDITOR:  “No kidding.”

ACKNOWLEDGING CAVEAT (Because I’m fair):  One way movie acting is excruciatingly difficult:

For budgetary reasons, movies are invariably shot out of sequence.  This cinematic necessity hamstrings the actor’s developing “through line.”

Imagine you have an “uplifting” movie where, essentially, a sad person becomes happy.  Gradually.  It’s not like, “I’m sad; I’m happy!” – that’s a twelve-second movie.  Instead, over an hour-and-a-half or so duration, the cloud of gloominess recedes and matters begin to look sunnier. 

That’s a movie. 

The problem for the movie actor is trying to delineate that ameliorating arc when the scenes are shot disruptingly out of order.

DIRECTOR“Okay, remember in the scene we shot yesterday where your character felt a glimmer of possibility?  Well today’s scene takes place earlier, when they didn’t.  Your scene’s co-star was unavailable then, so we are going a bit “backwards.” Not back to the beginning, where you felt utterly hopeless; you feel better than that, though not as good as you felt yesterday.  And leave room for the scene we’re shooting tomorrow, where we emotionally ‘split the difference’ – you feel better than you feel today although worse than you felt yesterday though considerably better than you felt at the beginning.”

“Call my agent!  I want to do theater!”

In that regard, acting in movies is uniquely challenging.  Unlike a play, where you can gather an emotional head of steam, the necessity to generate non-sequential, instant feelings in movies is like popcorn – “Pop!” – I feel this way; “Pop!” – now I feel this way.  No bolstering build-up; you have to jump in and act.

I do not know how they do that.  I only know this.  If you stink up the place, they yell “Cut!” and you do it again.  If you continue to fall short, they fashion a credible – possibly Oscar-winning – performance in the editing room.  Which could easily happen and probably has.

The victorious actor taking their bow.

The editor applauding and grumbing, “Bullshit!” under their breath.

Monday, June 26, 2017

"My Biggest Thrill Ever In Show Business"

 This post is being written in a gastroenterologist's Waiting Room where I will be periodically interrupted to blow in a bag. 

For me, though perhaps not for other bloggers, my idea-finding inspiration appears to be cyclical.  Sometime, ideas come at me like the fluttering "greenbacks" in Butch Cassidy and I have trouble corralling them all before they escape maddeningly to the winds.  

Other times, I need a search party, a team of sniffing bloodhounds and a flashlight to uncover an idea meriting your time and attention.  My intended quarry is out there, but it's burrowing in the weeds.

I have no idea what generates these unscheduled cycles of "feast or famine", and frankly, I don't really care.  I ride out the varying "weather systems" and forge dauntlessly ahead. 
  
Which is what makes me a professional.

He said facetiously.  But also it's true.

During those sporadic "dry spells", I invariably turn to my television writing career in search of promising prospects for possible "blog fodder", that exotic arena encompassing my single area of expertise and, to some but not all, of public curiosity.   

However, since I have covered a substantial amount of that ground over the years - most notably in a series of posts entitled "Story of a Writer" - that original motherlode of material has gotten progressively "played out."  There is also the issue of the limiting, non-combat version of  "PTSD" amnesia.

Hold on a second.  I gotta blow in a bag.

................................................

Okay, where was I?  Oh, yeah.

Recently, however, I became aware of another obstacle to finding worthy candidates for blogatorial attention in my former regular field of endeavor.  To borrow a line from my favorite courtroom drama, Inherit The Wind, I discovered that I was looking for post ideas "too high up and too far away."

It's a cultural thing, which inevitably has also bitten me in the... wherever "cultural things" habitually bite people.  

I was looking exclusively for the "spectacular."

The place I live in is the country of "big."  Not surprisingly, because it's a big country.  Although Canada is territorially bigger and, as far as I know, no Canadian gives a hoot about that.  

When I was lived there, my only concerns about "big" involved "That's a big driveway I have to shovel.  I wonder if I can get it done before losing feeling in my extremities."

Down here, it's "The Greatest Show on Earth", not "The Impressively Largish Show on Earth."  Wherever you look - and if you have to, the presidency - superlatives almost exclusively prevail. 

This  superlitizing phenomenon of "the biggest and the best" is without exception.  "I just ate the greatest kale salad with goat cheese in the world!"  No one wants to hear about "the higher echelon of enjoyable salads."  Therein lies "Yawn Country."

When I think about what would be the conventionally considered "high points" in my career, the "likely suspects" immediately pop to mind.

I won some prizes.  Participated in some of the "landmark" programming of the day. I signed some (unimaginably, to me, but "tip money" to others) lucrative contracts.  I received sincere compliments...

Oh wait.  Here comes the bag again.
.....................................................

Sorry about that.  

I received sincere compliments from writers I had once supervised, confiding, "I learned so much from you."  And if I weren't headed someplace else with this narrative, that would be the supreme pinnacle of the "most memorable" mountain.  It still unquestionably "Takes the Silver."

But there's something that edges even that greatly gratifying "high water mark" out, earning in the process the eponymous accolade, "My Biggest Thrill Ever In Show Business."

Which, in reality, amounts to two words that were never actually spoken.

Let us ponder that for a second.

My biggest thrill in show business involves two words nobody ever said to me.

Well, at least I adhered to the "Edict of Superlatives", dutifully labeling it "My biggest thrill", albeit of the "non-existent" variety.  To purists and nitpickers, the fact that the event never actually occurred may technically disqualify it from consideration.  

I, however, respectfully disgree.

What exactly are those two words I never heard that nonetheless signify "My Biggest Thrill Ever  In Show Business"?

The two words in question derive from a cowboy superstar John Wayne utterance, spoken in Red River or The Cowboys, or possibly both.

Uh-oh.  It's "Bag Breathing" time again.
................................................

I know it was in a "cattle drive" movie and the above titles both fit the bill.  

Here's the explanatory context.

Wait.  I need to include something.

Those two words I never heard arrived not in an instant but over the years, during the developing portion of my career.  I looked into my mind one day and, to my infinite delight and lifelong contentment, there they were.  

Okay, now the explanatory context.

John Wayne, the crusty "trail boss" of an impending cattle drive, is selecting which men (or in the case of The Cowboys, young boys) he will ultimately hire for the drive. He spots one contender competently going about his business, accurately described in the TV theme song "Rawhide" as "ride, rope and brand 'em."

As "The Duke" watches this capable cowpoke in action, a grumpy scowl - his version of an appreciative smile - crosses his countenance, accompanied by two acknowledging words of acceptance:

"He'll do."

That's what I realized as I proceeded through my early assignments, being continually kept on rather than told to go home.  The reaction was something I inferred, an un-uttered yet eminently certifying - and satisfying - "Seal of Approval."

"He'll do."

The most beautiful words I never heard.  Their implied unspoken implication 
representing, overwhelmingly, my biggest thrill ever in show business.  

"He'll do."

Deeming me good enough to stick around.

The remembrance of that including accolade breezed into my head the other day.

The memory still sets off a smile.

And, right on time, the last "blow in the bag", before I rewrite.
---------------------------------------------
Followup:  The test I blew in a bag for, which had previously been positive, turned out this time to be negative.  Although the frustrating symptoms accompanying the condition I apparently no longer have, continue.           

So there's that.  Along with an experiment where, for the first time. though unlikely the last, I wrote a entire blog post in a Doctor's Office. 



Friday, June 23, 2017

"I'm Not Sure What To Call This Yet"


The title of a post points you in a specific direction.  Sometimes, it’s the wrong direction.  So in order not to head down an erroneous pathway, I will leave the title open for the moment.  Except now, I have no focusing pathway.  Oh, well.  Flying blindly…

You might find it surprising – and possibly headshakingly inexplicable – to hear that one of my primary concerns when writing these posts is being assiduously careful never to use the same word twice. 

I am not, of course, talking about “the”, and the like; I am talking about words that matter.  With apologies to “the” and the many short but valuable words I have selected “the” to represent – “A” and its fraternal twin “an”, “but”, “to” and, oh yeah, “and” and also “also” – all wonderful – and admittedly essential – words in this literary enterprise, but they are not, in today’s context, what I am talking about.  Although the word “enterprise” is.  In my world, you use “enterprise” once, and that’s it.  Next time, it’s “undertaking.” 

Bottom Line:  You do not ever repeat words.  Repetition is distracting, as well as reflecting a demonstrable narrowness of vocabularial latitude.  So many words to choose from.  Why serve up the same one twice?

Distraction in comedy is a guaranteed “laugh killer.”  Repeat a word in a joke and you are a “ha-ah”-soliciting goner.

“How tall is he?”

“This guy is so high up there, people are, like, ‘How’s the air up there?’”

Dead.  If it were a good joke – still dead.  Telling a joke that way amounts to the public acknowledgement: “I have absolutely no understanding of what it means to be funny.”

Noteworthy Exception:

Sometimes repetition itself is funny.  But I am not talking about that.   I am not talking about saying precisely the same thing over and over again.  Saying the precisely same thing over and over again can be funny.  But I am not talking about that.  Saying precisely the same thing over and over again?  That’s not at all… what I am talking about.

Hopefully, you are at least chuckling and I can move on. 

Or I can say precisely the same thing an additional time.  Or as many as it takes till I have worn down your resistance.  Suffice it to say,

I am not talking about that.

I am talking about nouns, verbs, adverbs and adjectives repeatedly used in a single undertaking.  Or a single outing.  Or a single exercise. 

See that?  I’ve got three of them waiting for me – “As needed.” 

Imagine a novel where every woman is described as “attractive.”  Or, for those unable to make the grade, “unattractive.”  It might otherwise be a really good novel.  Still, your inevitable “take-away” would be, “This novelist has a limited vocabulary.”  (An exaggeration, of course, – because that’s what I do – but right now I am listening to a “Book-on-CD” called Dodge City where the word “six-gun” is being egregiously overused.)

I know this is a perennial “sticking point” for me because a couple of efforts ago I used the word “success” and its adjectival companion “successful” three times in the same post.  Reading it over, I felt like an absolute failure as a writer… because I was unable to come up with synonymal alternatives.  I have a thesaurus, but “triumphant”, “prevailing”, “vanquishing” felt like regressing steps down in absolute clarity from “successful.”

So I gave up, using “success” and its variation three times. 

I have to tell you, I did not sleep comfortably that night.

How did I get this way?  It’s my training.

In my early days writing for some of the most respected sitcoms on television – Mary Tyler Moore, Taxi, etc – writers were expected to be more than just funny; we had to also be clever and original.  Every joke and line of dialogue was required to be sparklingly freshly minted.  That’s what made those shows standouts. 

That’s what I learned and that’s what I did.  And have continued to do.  Notwithstanding the occasional lapse where I use “success” and/or “successful” three times in one post. 

Oh, the ignominy!  Oh, the shame!

Now, here comes the “turn.”

As mentioned previously, I am a habitual viewer of the show Blue BloodsBlue Bloods, I have found, to my confusion and dismay, plays an entirely alternate game.

Rather than reinventing the wheel with every pronouncement, Blue Bloods talks like reasonably educated human beings.  But not “fancy.” 

Although they are on television, where highly paid writers are expected – I believed – to express themselves in a unique and imaginative manner, the characters on Blue Bloods speak like the everyday person-in-the-street.

The characters say things like,

“It is what it is.” 

“What goes around comes around.” 

“Sometimes it’s better to apologize than to ask permission.” 

They actually said that.  With nary a wink nor ironic acknowledgment that they are spouting retrograde clich├ęs. 

Blue Bloods characters are not pretending they are breaking new ground with their pithy observations.  Rather than trying to “one up” reality, they simply echo what regular “Joes” and “Janines” in such situations might say.  (They would probably say regular “Joes” and “Janes.”)

Naysayers might describe this as “lazy writing.” 

But, to me, it feels surprisingly refreshing.

And in a way – a “back-to-basics” kind of a way – revolutionary.

It’s like nobody’s “trying too hard.”  By easing up on the assiduous cleverness – see Aaron Sorkin and other pyrotechnical smarty-pantses, including myself, who could have found a more monosyllabic descriptive than “pyrotechnical” – or “monosyllabic” – they sound like regular, lived-in human beings – the scuffed shoes and corduroy trousers of characters.

To be honest, and in the final analysis – because I am not ready to jump into the rest of the sentence – I am not sure what I think about that.  I have a feeling Blue Bloods “normalizes” its dialogue on purpose, so as not to sound snootily elitist.  I see this “regularizing” technique in other aspects of the series as well.  For example, the show’s star, Tom Selleck, is seen repeatedly wearing the same shawl-collar cardigan sweater.  Breaking this television “wardrobe taboo” feels like a deliberate “character statement”:

“This guy really likes this sweater.  And you know what people partial to a particular item of clothing do?  They wear it a lot.”   

That’s what I do.  I wear this Sarah Lawrence t-shirt I’ve got on whenever it’s clean.  If this t-shirt were the word “successful”, I would be summarily drummed out of the “Smart Writers Club.”

So, what’s better, is what I’m wondering – “highly imaginative” or “readily identifiable”?

The Blue Bloods approach has gotten me thinking.  Though I am unlikely to stop obsessing about deliberately repeating myself.

Wait. 

Did I say that already?

Thursday, June 22, 2017

"It's Their Problem - But That Doesn't Stop Me From Thinking About It"

Upfront Apology:  I will be unable to write this very well, as my thoughts today go to a character – known in real life as an actual person – who is substantially different from myself.  And I am, sadly, not a skillfully enough writer to satisfactorily delineate them. 

Other writers can do it; delineate characters dissimilar to themselves.  But living by the dictum:  “Nobody does ‘Me’ better than me”, I am obliged to acknowledge the dictum’s implicit corollary:  “I cannot equally successfully do anyone else.” 

My best effort, were I to try, would be seen, by me and probably you as well, as “counterfeit money.”  (Which reminds me of my Canadian brother’s joke about the Jewish counterfeiter who was apprehended because the forged currency he engraved said, “Qveen Elizabeth.”)

We live in a diverse culture in which disparate value systems must somehow learn to co-exist.  For me, a lot of things are, like, “It’s nobody’s business.”  Gender issues, for example.  What do I care?  A former female wants to avail themselves of the “Men’s” bathroom?  So what?  Side-by-side at the urinals, you might possibly hear something interesting, maybe a wistful “I miss peeing sitting down.”  That would be fascinating.  You can tell people about it at parties and they’ll laugh,

Other things, however, which will be revealed in due course, encroach on our daily regular existence.  Recently, I started to think about those underdogs, who may, in fact, be numerically superior but, as things currently stand, you pull the handle on the “Cultural Slot Machine” and the winner is,

“Not people like you.”

(Note:  I am about to talk ignorantly through my hat, as I try to delineate those “Not people like me.”)

What entered my mind were thoughts of ordinary people who unwaveringly never swear –even when they whack their thumb with a hammer – people raised with values of acceptable language and public behavior unlike those currently in vogue, people for whom the words “vulgar”, “crude”, “tasteless”  “coarse” have palpable meaning, people a more “liberated” society denigrates with words like “prudish”, “old-fashioned”, “fuddy-duddy” and “repressed.”  

I bet there are a lot of those people, and I bet they get tired of defending what they grew up to perceive as “natural behavior.”  Of course there’s the fire-breathing ugly contingent,  “Legion of Decency” and the like – but I’m not talking about them.  I am talking about people exhibiting – and expecting in return – traditional “good manners.”  Or are “good manners” just code words for “So-o-o ‘What century are you living in’?”  (I originally wrote “So-o-o ‘Ozzie and Harriet’” but I feared confusion if not outright hostility for the antediluvian reference.)  

As I write this, I sense the inevitable “push-back.”  And I understand where it’s coming from.  Historically, “Traditional etiquette” has enforced tons of culturally sanctioned inequities.  “That is simply not done.”  I get – and unequivocally agree – that a lot of that nonsense had to be blown up.  But does it really have to be “All or nothing”?  Is individual liberty the same and “Everything goes”?  (It just occurred to me that maybe it is.)

If a person objecting to the coarsening of our culture is behaviorally tolerant – and there is no reason they necessarily wouldn’t be, and if you think otherwise you might want to revisit your own tolerance – if that person is tolerant, then the life choices of others, for them, would be unworthy of comment, criticism, ridicule or legislative prevention.  It’s just, “People are different – Have a nice day.”  The different does not affect them, it’s “No harm – no foul” and see you at the next Brotherhood (or Sisterhood) Annual Dinner.

But then there’s the media.  (The aforementioned inescapable “encroacher.”)

The media is everywhere; it “gets on you” wherever you go.  The media – with its “Free Speech” protection and concomitant big money opportunities – is inside your house.  You cannot get away the media.  You could throw out your TV, I suppose, but should you have to?    

What I recently started to wonder is what do these people I’ve been talking generically about – people truly uncomfortable with coarseness and crudity – actually watch?  

What do they watch with their children?  (assuming their children are willing to participate in family viewing.  They could respectfully be “otherwise engaged.”)

Note:  Twenty-five years ago, I was warned by my agent – for my own good, meaning my career survival – that I should start writing more “edgy”, “more edgy” being a euphemism for more blatantly sexual.  (Satire and cultural commentary are also “edgy” but they didn’t do any back then.)  My bristling reaction to my agent’s advice – “I can’t!” – reflected an equal amalgam of “I would feel very uncomfortable doing that” and “I have no idea how.”

(The preceding paragraph is the only section of this narrative that is exclusively about me – an unrivaled record for Just Thinking.  The only reason it’s in there is habit.  And now back to the decent people.)

Cable television altered the boundaries of acceptable content.  Other delivery services ran with the ball, all aware that commercial television, due to its pressurizable business model, would be unable to keep pace.  (This sexual “Dividing Line” harkens back to decades ago, when foreign films had the monopoly on nudity.  Then the limiting “Code” went away and American movies quickly caught up, offering the unbeatable combination of nudity and unadorned women who spoke English. 

Still constricted by language and subject matter controls, TV networks, trying desperately to remain relevant, gradually loosened their rules, so that now, even mainstream comedy routinely goes “south of the border” for its laugh-inducing shenanigans.

Where then, I ask seriously, is a legitimate decent person searching for entertainment to turn?

“We do not see the problem”, some might contrarily rebut.  “It’s a different time.”  “Get with the program.”  “if you don’t like what you see, change the channel.”

The question is – asking you to momentarily identify with their troubling predicament –


To what?