Everything in its Place.

When I was a kid, I'd often organize toys in stores. If things on shelves were in disarray, I'd stack them neatly. If someone had mixed up all the Secret Wars action figures, I'd methodically sort them out. “I wish you were like this at home,” my mom would semi-quip, “Why can't you clean your room like this?” It wasn't about cleanliness though, so much as a compulsive desire to see things organized. Organized and neat aren't necessarily the same thing. My room may be a mess, with stacks of books, papers, board games, and laundry, but I know where nearly every item is.

I think a lot of it has to do with familiarity, maintaining a certain comfort zone. Some of it surely ties in to my love of solving puzzles. A large part of my responsibility as a graphic artist involves puzzle solving. I have a lot of elements, puzzle pieces, to assemble on any given page without that page looking crowded or disorganized. My job is to make things fit, and still look nice. When something is off, it nags at me. On line in a Starbucks today at lunch, I noticed one Perrier bottle poised slightly askew from its brethren. I waited as the people ahead of me were assisted, my eyes darting to that one bottle occasionally, the asymmetry stabbing at me. I couldn't take it anymore. I reached over, and tipped it back on to its base. I was pleased for a moment, then turned it so the label faced outward, matching the others alongside it. My mom's voice from the stores of my youth echoed in my brain. Why wasn't I as conscientious in my room? In my cubicle?

Tonight after my workout, I stumbled in to the locker room, exhausted and sore. I glanced at the clock on the wall, near the ceiling, noting that it was still wrong, by at least two hours. Last week it was off by six, so there was some improvement. As I weighed myself, noting that my steady loss of 1-2 pounds a week was continuing, I kept glancing at that clock. I couldn't leave it at 5:15 when it was really 7:15. It was a wrong that had to be set right, and without witnesses, my favorite kind. There's a tile outcropping in front of the lockers, alongside the pillar on which the clock is mounted. Balancing myself with one hand, my sneakers wavering on the edge, I reached up with the other and nudged the hands until they were in the correct position. It was all in a day's work for Anonymous Clock Setting Man, the lamest superhero in the room.

I set right the things that can easily be set right, resist those that aren't so easy, and struggle with those I have no control over. Last night I found myself nostalgic over a television network, of all things. As many of you may know, the WB recently merged with UPN to form the CW. I'd heard about it a few months ago, and could care less. Smallville and Supernatural were surviving the merger, so it was all a logo change to me at best. It still is, actually.

However, last night, the final night of the WB, they struck a chord with me as they aired the first episodes of Felicity, Angel, Buffy and Dawson's Creek. It was a block of the network's most significant shows, to celebrate their ten years of existence. I still remember when it was WPIX, when kids called in during cartoons to “play” video games with basic graphics over the phone by shouting “PIX! PIX!”, which triggered a space ship to fire on other ships. If they got a high score, the station sent them a prize. When the syndicated channel became a network, the only thing I cared about was Batman: The Animated Series changing stations and finally airing new episodes after a few years of reruns. The KidsWB would introduce such great shows as Batman Beyond, Animaniacs, Jackie Chan Adventures, Static Shock, Superman, and the revolutionary X-men: Evolution. I'd see commercials for the evening programming, with Michigan J. Frog resurrected as a mascot to lure in the young adult audience. I tried Buffy, but the snippets I'd catch while channel surfing would be embarrassingly girlie, mile-a-minute conversations in a library with Alyson Hannigan about boys. It wasn't for me.

Eventually, I caught some darker episodes in the second season, and by the time Angel lost his soul and went from her love interest to her nemesis and sadistic tormentor, I got hooked on the live action gothic comic book that it all was. When Angel got his own series, I followed that as well. I watched the first episodes again last night, parts of Buffy new to me as I hadn't caught everything in syndication. I got home too late to watch Felicity, but other than it being a J.J. Abrams show, there was really no draw. Abrams went on to do much better shows. I gave the Dawson's pilot about three minutes, a strange sense of deja vu lingering. Had I done the same thing eight years ago? Katie Holmes delivers a painful speech that includes the phrases “I have breasts” and “you have genitalia” as reasons why she can no longer spend nights in the same bed as Dawson, the boy she grew up with. What teenagers talk like that? It was a show for some people, and I definitely was not among them. I clicked over to the new episode of Family Guy airing against it and never looked back.

The other point of interest besides the Whedon shows were the commercials that were airing, classic ones featuring the various stars interacting with one another and occasionally the Frog. Stupid when they first aired, at least in my estimation, I found myself missing those days. The realization that things change hit me. Has it really been eleven years since that station began? Between DVDs and the internet, we really don't have to say goodbye to any particular time period, although there's definitely a difference. Maybe it all ties in to my need to maintain order insofar as things remain familiar. Everything has a place. A station should have a certain logo, and certain shows should be on at certain times on certain days. Any deviation is chaos, and tragic.

Or maybe, just maybe, I watch too much television. I should spend some time outdoors. More on that tomorrow....


Anonymous Lyndon said...

Damn you! Anonymous Clock Setting Man, you finally caught on to my nefarious scheme :-)

Very well you may have foiled me this time, but we'll meet again Muahahahaha!

Until then, I'll have to read your great posts on your blog.

9/19/2006 1:16 AM  
Blogger Darrell said...

I clicked over to the new episode of Family Guy airing against it and never looked back.

I've been a fan for a while now, but I think the show is running a little thin, milking jokes for far more than they're worth. The Darth Vader bit Sunday night, for instance, drug on forever.

9/19/2006 2:07 PM  
Blogger MCF said...

Agreed, actually. It should have just been him raising the guy in the air and choking him, not the whole drawn out bit with him going home, going to the bank, etc. The Peanuts bit was kind of funny, but that's all the first two episodes have had this season; 1 or 2 good spots amid an otherwise slow episode.

9/19/2006 2:11 PM  
Anonymous Jeff said...

How could you not watch Family Guy from the start? I agree though that sometimes Family Guy goes way over the top, and the humour far from works, but for every bad joke there seems to be a gem hidden there that's funnier than anything The Simspons ever tried.

9/19/2006 4:38 PM  
Blogger Janet said...

Forever I will associate my college years with the WB lineup. Dawson's, Buffy and Felicity. At one time, I loved them all. People dont give the "little" networks nearly as much credit as they deserve. Though I can't say I understand the need for the change completely, I hope the CW makes a smooth transition, too.

9/19/2006 6:10 PM  
Blogger Wendy said...

I loved Felicity. I thought it was a truly wonderful show. WE shows reruns of it all the time, and I love watching the reruns. I never get tired of it.

I've never watche Dawson's Creek though.

9/19/2006 7:36 PM  
Blogger Lorna said...

iwanted to read your blog tonight but one of the corners of my duvet was turned towards the wall, and, you know...

9/19/2006 9:31 PM  

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