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Thursday, April 2, 2009

Smell the roses, etc.

You've gotta be a certain type or be in the right mood to appreciate certain pieces or certain sentiments. If you're not in the mood, a touching, emotional consideration of issues in life can seem maudlin, trite or sappy. So if you're not feeling this post, save the snark and just move on. Come back to this post at another time, maybe.

That being said, we all have moments that stick in our heads for giving us a heads up or a wake up call or something similar. They may help us see something that's been in front of us forever. Something might give you the same feeling you get when you learn the lyrics you've been singing to a favorite song all those years were wrong. Or that the real reason that was so funny has been going over your head.

For Mary McNamara of the LA Times such a moment was an episode of ER from the first season.
"I turned on the TV to watch that season's sexy new medical drama, and there I was, shaking and dry-mouthed and my life would never be the same."
---
"Inevitably, through a series of events that will probably start with something unremarkable - a headache, a cough, the decision to change lanes - it will be me in that final shot. With any luck, I'll be very old and not quite so hacked up, but who knows? So it's important to pay attention to what is happening, to participate in my life as it is right now."

"Not only to ensure that something serious doesn't go wrong when I'm not looking - there's no ensuring that - but to know that I got the most out of my days when it finally does.

Not too bad for a 14-year-old episode of network television."

As a teen home alone one afternoon, I remember flipping through the channels and stumbling onto HBO. My attention was caught by a familiar face I soon recognized as Grossman, the doughy doofy secondary character from "CHiPs." (Quick imdb.com search finds his name to be Paul Linke. See memory jogging pics here). He was on a stage talking. Curious, I watched.

What a show, what a story, what a storyteller. The special (more reserach identifies it as a 1986 production called "Time Flies While You're Alive") was about the sickness and ultimate death of his wife from cancer. It was about his life and relationship with his wife and three kids before, during and after her death.

Though I was an age where I'd do my best to resist it and never admit it, I cried. I remember it often. The specific words and details of the story have fallen victim to time and a very bad memory. There may have been a story about a difficult birth, but I can't be sure. The emotion, though--the humor and sadness, the mutual love, the simultaneous frustration and determination of the family--is something that has stuck with me to this day.

There are often stories thrown around about actors using certain devices to get themselves in a mindset for a scene or before they take the stage. They think of their childhood puppy dying to cry, they read details of the Holocaust to build rage. Did you ever wonder what you'd use as a device if you were an actor? For a long time, Larry Linke's performance was on my list.

I'm not going to close the way McNamara did. Either you know or you don't. Consider yourself reminded though.

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