Thursday, February 17, 2005

Lost in a sea of Reality TV

One man's view on life, love, law

Talking about whether or not Reality TV is good or bad for society is sooo five years ago, but here's my take on it. It's here to stay. Not only that, it's the best thing to happen to television in a long time.

As more and more of these shows continue to pop up on the prime-time radar, it is evident reality television is more than a trend. After all, top-rated shows like Friends and Sex and the City have wrapping up, most new sitcoms seem to disappear after a handful of episodes, and night after night, viewers can choose between a handful of reality shows, or one of any rerun sitcoms starring Ted Danson or Everybody Loves Raymond.

I heard an actress state that she hated reality television because it was taking work away from real actors. As one can imagine, any writer (especially writers), director, costume or set designer would probably have the same complaint.

Indeed, people aren’t turning on their televisions to watch dramatic performances. A witty dialogue or knockout piece of acting just don’t seem to hold the same popularity as they did a mere five years ago. Now, people are watching other people kissing in hot tubs, putting worms down their pants and shedding tears after being voted off the show.

What's good about that? Above all else, reality television is offering viewers a break from the scripted and performed. Watching real people compete and hold grudges and stoop to new lows is certainly different, and we often forget the absolutely horrible sitcoms that have come and gone. For every "Friends", "Cheers", or "Seinfeld", there were hundreds of BAD tv shows, which were often predictable.

In fact, I had sworn off any scripted shows, until I watched Lost ... and guess what? I got hooked. The show is really well written, and it's the puzzle solver in me that tries, with each week's new clue, to figure out the links, mysteries, connections, involved in the show. The various message boards that carry word puzzles with tantalizing clues or spoilers, also adds to the mystery.

If you haven't "Got Lost" ... check it out each Wednesday!

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Knock knock...

One man's view on life, love, law

It's going to be any day now. We've done the childbirth classes, she's done the breast feeding classes (surprisingly, a lot to learn), and I've scheduled the baby boot camp for new dads. I know it's coming, and I still don't feel prepared. I must be missing something, right? What could it be?

How would I know?

I know that, as I've discussed with my lovely wife, women feel the baby move and are constantly pressured to deal with its reality and its growth on a daily basis. It's easier for men to be in some denial, I think, because it's not as immediate or concrete.

Believe it or not, this baby is somewhat theoretical, even still.

One website puts it as follows, regarding a father's feelings at childbirth:

"Fathers who are present at birth are, more often than mothers, captured by the baby immediately. Whereas women may need minutes, hours, or a few days to feel connected to the baby, fathers often feel the power of this connection at the moment of birth. Unless the mother or baby is in some danger just after birth, the father is likely to find these moments life-changing and exquisite. These feelings are often blended with a sudden awareness of exhaustion.

A father also experiences new feelings about his mate. He may speak of his amazement at her courage, strength, and endurance during labor. He now faces the task of integrating his memory of her in labor with his previous knowledge and feelings about her.

A father may have to work through feelings he experienced while supporting the mother in labor. One of the most common feelings fathers speak about after labor is that of helplessness. Unless he is told, a man may not know how much his presence and emotional support really meant to the laboring woman.

A man may also feel that the labor experience has altered his whole life view. He may have gained a sense of the miraculous and spiritual, of a deeper meaning to life.

Not all fathers, of course, are able to share the birth experience. A lot of fathers who missed their babies' births worry that not having been there will affect their relationships with their babies. Birth is a special moment in the parent-child relationship, but it is only one moment. The years of child rearing provide many other shared moments that are just as important in the development of a relationship between father and child."

True that.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Valentine's Day - Advice for Men

Yes, Valentine's Day is the Love Holiday we all love to hate. Most people my age or younger profess to disdain Valentine's Day:

"It's a Hallmark holiday, about as deep as a sympathy card bought at the supermarket."
"It's a pseudo-holiday created to get consumers to buy stuff."
"How meaningful is a supposed token of affection that you are obliged to give?"

My friend Pam, always witty, called it "Singles Appreciation Day", (S.A.D.), in the realization that those who are single need attention also! (Pam, I think you're hilarious, by the way).

I think this mentality is a successor to the one which dictated that you had to do something original every year. From the pressure to impress with something, anything other than a heart-shaped box of chocolates and a dozen red roses, it was a short step to boycotting the day altogether.

Men breathed a collective sigh of relief when Disdain started to be adopted by women on a large scale, and they fed it with strategic charm ("Oh, honey, you know I love you 365 days a year. No overpriced dinner is going to prove that.")

So the following may come as a shock to some males: Secretly, deep down, your woman wants you to do something for VD. No matter how vociferously she scoffs on the surface. In fact, the more she scoffs, the more likely she is to be secretly harboring a hankering for a cheesy heart-shaped box of chocolates.

Some couples do have a genuine understanding to mutually ignore the holiday with which they are well content. But they are rarer than you think. Most of the time, when this appears to be the case, you have him relieved that she so readily and sincerely agreed with his earnest "We don't believe in that Valentine schmaltz do we, honey? All my other girlfriends have been too cool for it too…" and her secretly wishing to come home to find the bed covered in rose petals. She doesn't complain—that wouldn't be hip, modern and cool—but she feels a vague sense that she is missing out.

So, what's my advice? All you apathetic "too cool" guys out there—yes, you. Get in gear next year if you blew it this year. Show your appreciation. You don't have to feed the machine—a foot rub, or, better yet, a full-body massage, will go over much better than flowers. And a home-cooked meal, even if the only thing you can cook is a grilled-cheese sandwich, will go over much better than an overpriced restaurant excursion. (True to form, I used to make reservations months in advance for the hottest restaurants, only to find prices marked up, and "special menus" that are prepared en masse sitting in the backof the kitchen, getting stale. This year I lit all the candles in sight, played the right music, and created a special high quality Valentine's meal, that she really appreciated. Much better, if you can, to cook at home, and make it as special as you can. Never underestimate her appetite for seduction).

And don't be afraid to be a little cheesy. On this holiday only, cheesy can work well, in fact. I guarantee you she's never gotten a heart-shaped box of chocolates from anyone other than her dad. And not since she was 12. Pretend it's tongue-in-cheek, if that makes you feel better. VD celebrations can convey the message, "I'm only doing this because I have to."

It all depends on your attitude. Your only objective is to show her that you don't take her for granted. Even if you do, the other 364 days a year.