Thursday, December 1, 2011

Day 197: Sweetness

After the stress of the holidays, prolonged joblessness and now Becky's loss, I could use a break.

Last night, we went to see The Muppets.

With my daughter grown, I don't go see a lot of movies that skew toward kids any more. A big exception: I'll go see anything Pixar has a hand in. "Up" is still one of the best things I've seen in years.

At what point do you perceive that you've "outgrown" certain things? When do you feel like you're too old to do the things you loved when you were a child?

I get it. I don't want cotton candy any more. Or hardly any candy at all. It's funny how adults adjust... the only candy that is regularly acceptable now is chocolate. It's been able to market itself as sophisticated. Godiva makes great sweets, but c'mon, man... that's candy. But now we can have this particular candy as adults because it's been approved.

Other foods have done the same thing... found a way to become accepted as adult when in reality they're kid favorites. Think of macaroni and cheese or grilled cheese sandwiches... here in Gawd's Country we have a restaurant that makes grilled cheese sandwiches and it's positioned itself as somewhat upscale. But, it's a grilled cheese sandwich. Great cheese or not, it's two pieces of bread, butter and cheese. C'mon, man.

Another thing we did as kids that we don't do enough of now is play. It's cleverly disguised now as "fitness" in a lot of cases. Riding a bike is still fun, but you're probably going to get some strange looks if you have a ringer, handlegrip tassels, a wicker basket or a baseball card between the spokes. Or training wheels. So now to do this fun thing you've got to have a pricy bike and gear. Fortunately some play you can still respectably get away with. Softball, basketball, flag football allow your childhood jock to keep going. What hurts these are people who take these games too seriously. And someone always does. The most fun I've had with this was a co-ed league that required at least three women in the lineup. Our women players were so good we often played with four women in the lineup.

But some play is just not accepted. Call a bunch of your friends up and tell them you want to schedule a big game of hide-and-seek. I think the reaction you get would tell you a lot about who you should intensify your friendship with.

Every now and then I am channel-surfing and stop on the Disney Channel. My daughter loved this when she was little. When I see it now it seems a little (hmmm... make that a lot) manufactured. Everything is so exaggerated and over the top: the colors, the acting, the sets. But they're still a little fascinating. I love looking at the background details such as posters on the walls of schools or rooms, or notes scribbled on bulletin boards or held by fridge magnets. They're subtle: "Homecoming Dance Saturday" or a grocery list. Subtle reinforcements of "the American Way" most of the time. I guess being Disney you shouldn't expect to see a reminder about an OWS rally.

Disney released The Muppets. The behemoth company has deservedly caught a lot of grief for various things, but with Pixar and things like The Muppets I can't find fault.

Sometimes things that are sweet are too much so. This is the case with a lot of the Disney TV programming. But in these sour times, I think we could use a little more sweetness. As my friend Ken says, everything in moderation, including moderation. ANd that's why I wanted to go see this movie. The Muppets became a part of the American consciousness through Sesame Street, still one of the seminal programs in TV history. They were so appealing they were bigger than public television's greatest show. They were a part of the first season of Saturday Night Live. And the premise of the movie is a re-staging of their regular TV program.

If I ever meet Jason Segel, I'm going to thank him for being the force behind getting this movie out. It's just right. Naturally there's a lot of show-bizzy song and dance numbers, but they're appropriate for the movie. The humor didn't have quite the bite that the TV show used to have, but that's OK. The important thing is that for two hours, you're willingly giving yourself over to something you know is going to be a little corny, a little old-fashioned, and cynicism is bounced at the entrance. Throw in a Pixar cartoon short featuring the original Toy Story characters and you've got a break from the pain of the real world. Much better than a night at the bar.

And it kind of can clear your mind of the clutter.

Stuff happens. This morning I watched as my new neighbor of two days crashed into my parked car. Punctured the rear bumper that has already been replaced once after a previous smashup. It's obviously annoying and something that I will now have to deal with.

But no one *wants* to get into an accident and deal. So I'm not too bent about it. Against the normal backdrop of life, this is a pretty minor problem. I just want the days to be as full and sunny as they can be. I don't want to let petty crap drag me down. With The Muppets' reminder about the good things, I'm just going with it. Everything will work out. Most of this junk is just that: junk. Even the worst life has some good things. Some people would use the old phrase "count your blessings."

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