The Idiot Box

February 18, 2001

I have noticed--and it doesn't take a genius--that commercials seem to be pretty heavy on "here's a dumb person, buy our product" lately. So for the hour that I was watching The Simpsons and Malcolm in the Middle on Fox tonight, I kept track of how many commercials identified their product with people acting stupidly. I excluded commercials for inherently stupid products and ill-conceived commercials that didn't expect the viewer to identify with someone behaving in a blatantly stupid manner. In that hour, we saw 34 commercials; 15 of them featured the "dumb person/product" strategy. Most of the rest were either commercials for cars or for the network itself. This is not as bad as I had feared, but wow. I would think that "Hey, idiots use our stuff!" would be an advertising message one would want to avoid. Evidently I would be wrong.

Other stuff from today...I drafted a story, "The Ballet Master," that I didn't know was in me. (Which was frustrating, since I still have a pretty long queue of stories I *do* know are in me.) It might not even be editable, but it might be cool. We'll find out in the morning. Distance is our friend. ("Queue" is also our friend. I think I've arranged to use the word "queue" at least three times in writing today. I think it's the secret magic word. Which brings to mind my friend Scott screaming, "Secret magic word!" while thrusting a stuffed lizard at me, but that's not even something I could have explained at the time, so I'm not even going to try now.) (Scott also does a really cool Carol Kane, on alternate Thursdays: "Liar! LI-AR!" Which left me as Billy Crystal at the time, but you know. Whatever.) So anyway. "Queue." Yes. I promise a surprise to anyone who knows that's my secret magic word.

And I figured out who the mathematician is, a little at least. This is a character in my New Novel, and I knew she was around, and I knew some of the things she did to advance the plot (which has nothing whatsoever to do with mathematics), but I didn't even know if she was a he or a she. But now I know. And I have another page and a half of that as well. I intended to do a random writing exercise--first lines, or what kind of story I would want to write for which of the people I like, or something random out of one of our writing books--but I've gotten enough focused stuff so far that I'm afraid that may have to wait. Right now, I want to finish Julie Czerneda's A Thousand Words for Stranger, since I've been reading it for just short of forever (for me--this translates at around a week). And just curl up and be a little. I'm not a very good be-er. (Or a very good beer at all, but that's another problem. After my experience with my Asimov Award story, though, I'm not counting on any punctuation or SCENE BREAKS coming out the way I intended them to.) I've got a perpetual "to do" list; more than one, actually. People have tried to claim that the list is the problem. Do not question the list. The list is not the problem. If I didn't have the list, I still wouldn't be able to "just be" very often. I'd be worrying about what I was forgetting instead. Which is no fun either.

This has gotten kind of rambly. Hmm. I know other people (at least, those of them who are Tim) tend to write journal entries before they go to bed, but this may be suboptimal for Morning Person Me. Maybe tomorrow I'll do it differently. I have all sorts of theories on which I can expound. Yay, theories!

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