Monday, May 21, 2001

Throwin' One Dollar Wienies at David McCarty

"Honey, I'm the original one eyed chicklet in the kingdom of the blind."
-The God Glorificus

The question of the week is what has a longer lasting effect on your tired and cranky historical scribe after months upon months of watching laws made on sunny frightful days- meeting the Dalai Lama or the fine season long writing efforts on the favorite teeny boppin WB soon to be UPN show? Gee, what do you think?

I'd love to answer the question in an awe-inspiring manner but unfortunately I'm just too tired. I've never been more tired in my life and believe me I've been plenty tired once or twice before.

I was strolling into work last week and thinking about how quickly inspiration fades. Meeting one of the world's most famous spiritual leaders did have an effect; indeed it got me looking at and thinking about things in a little different way. But that faded and it faded much sooner than I wished it had.

So there I was trying to hold on to a thought, a belief, a word, a feeling when everything just kind of returned to the way it has been for a while. As the reality fades the television glows and as I got home on Thursday I finally had the chance to watch Tuesday's episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The show has had a wonderful year. The writing has remained clever and funny but it goes beyond the masterful way the words have been put together and the story has unfolded. Rather it has to do with a skilled artist (writer/producer Josh Whedon) operating at the top of his game while expressing himself so fluidly with breathtaking clarity. (Did I ever tell you all about the asthmatic who took my breath away or was it she knocked the wind out of me?)

Years back in the midst of my infamous "blue period" my dear friend Spunky and I decided to sit down to write a television script to help me overcome my writer's block. We figured we had an in into the Hollywood biz because Spunky's cousin Dale Launer wrote My Cousin Vinny, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Love Potion #9. Spunky and I chose to write an episode of The Golden Girls despite having never watched the show.

I was well aware of the charges of selling out that were heaped upon my all time favorite literary hero, F. Scott Fitzgerald when he started writing screenplays but words are words and self expression spread across any canvass can be admirable if done sincerely. Television may not have been as worthy a goal as writing a novel but it was writing and it was channeling my leaking energy in a creative manner. We didn't get very far on the script but a seed to a lesson was planted nonetheless.

This has been a rough year on the character of Buffy. She broke up with her boyfriend. She began questioning the meaning of her profession and her life and how the two so fatefully intertwine and not by choice but by who she is. Her mother died. And now to prevent the fracturing of this reality she has found out she has to destroy someone dear to her heart, a key to her past.

The pressure was too much and Buffy finally snapped. She tumbled within herself in a catotonic trance where she replayed over and over in her mind the things she was running away from while at the same time facing her doomed fate in a surrealistic way. Her crisis, much like President Bartlett's crisis in the West Wing has caused her to question her own beliefs while at the same time gaining strength by such questions.

Never has a show delved so deeply and so expertly into the issues of grief. Life goes on but sometimes we don't. Sometimes it helps to be able to talk freely to your friends but sometimes it's their lack of words or absences that hurt the most. All the feelings that surround an overwhelming loss- the confusion, the sadness, the separation both from all that once brought comfort but also the detachment to one's own soul that comes from having to let go. It's all been there this year in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and with it a lesson: it's not about questioning the source of inspiration, it's about appreciating those that know the distinction.

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