Friday, August 29, 2008

Revisitting the West Wing

I'm not working at the dry cleaners anymore. There was.. Well there was a thing and then a small grade fight and then a shortish conversation. Anyway, I'm not working there now. I'm starting a part time job at Kohl's now. There's really no reason why you should care that these things are true, except that the lack of time spent idly at the dry cleaner's is the reason why updates in this space have been and will most likely continue to be, less frequent. I like calling it "this space." It makes it feel like I'm writing for something that matters. Like it's space that needs to be filled otherwise it would just be barren wasteland. It's not, of course... But it's nice to pretend.

I went back and read one of my early blogs about phrases people (mis)use. I liked that entry a lot. It was entertaining and had nothing to do really with updating you poor suckers who bother to read this drivel on the current nowhereness of my life. Don't get me wrong... Periodic updates are somewhat important to me. The main reason I started writing here was to keep in touch in a very laxidasical way with Mike, so I like it when time to time he has a real life update. But other than that, I think it's just boring to be recording the things that are going on in my life here. Of course, I don't really talk about them very much outside of this space (I did it again) so I suppose there's something to be said for letting people who care know these things in some fashion. But, well, I'd like it if I had more actual things to rant about in an entertaining way. I wonder if any of my old livejournal blogs are still around... And I wonder if any of them were entertaining at all. I remember I wrote one about the passion of the christ that I turned in as an essay to a teacher I liked at the time and he liked it. I wonder if I can figure out how to find that again. Probably not.

The main point of writing this entry tonight, really, is because I haven't written one in a while. .That's about it. I haven't had anything much to say, so I haven't said it. I've wanted to write a substantive and fun entry, but haven't had a topic. There have been little things... I remember wanting to write something about politics, but not Mike's kind, and something about how much bigger and at the same time smaller everything gets as you get older. But those wouldn't have been enough of a topic to have really filled enough space for me to bother writing about them. And they wouldn't really have been that much FUN.

Both of those topics, though, arose from watching the West Wing again. I didn't have anything that I really was excited about watching, and so I'm making my way once more through the best television series aired to date, a position I will hear no arguments on. Watching the West Wing is kind of a big thing for me. It's a Stacy thing, and only mildly interesting and not very entertaining, so I will be keeping this somewhat short.

The West Wing was a big part of mine and Stacy's relationship. At around that time I had fallen in love with Sports Night. It's funny... I had never really thought about the writer of a movie or TV series before that. I had wanted to write, and was aware that shows were written by someone, but it just hadn't occurred to me to follow the writer of something I liked from one project to the next. Actors, and even directors, I had been paying attention to. But somehow the writer, who I now consider to be one of if not the most important facet of the medium, had somehow escaped my scrutiny. Aaron Sorkin and the West Wing changed that.

On a side note, there was another entry I had thought about writing about how until I got into Friends pretty heavily I had never thought about television shows in terms of seasons and beginnings and endings. There's not too much meat on that topic either... Just something I had thought about for a minute or two the other day.

Back to the issue at hand. So, I had fallen in love with Sports Night, and then there was a Winter Break or something that put me and Lior both in Springs at the same time. We were hanging out at Stacy's place because he was dating her at the time and that's what we did, and there was an episode of the West Wing on television that we watched. It was Celestial Navigation. That was the episode. I didn't really' understand the underlying themes of the episode. I didn't understand that they were trying to put Mendoza on the bench of the Supreme court, or any of the other plot lines running through the episode. But I enjoyed it. All of the things I loved about Sports Night were present, plus a much richer story that I , at the time, didn't follow. So I started downloading and watching the series furiously.

It was one of the first things Stacy and I sort of bonded over. Another was the fact that we were both up late nights and talked during roughly the time the sun was coming up regularly. But, seeing as I was downloading the series anyway, and she liked it too, my first excuse to see her, though at the time was a platonic excuse, was to drop off the dvds of the series that I made for her as I accumulated them.

When we started dating, watching the West Wing together was sort of our thing. It was more important to me than it was to her... But I suppose that could be said about the entire relationship. We never got through the whole series, but the time I looked forward to the most back then was laying with her on her couch or her bed and watching The West Wing with her.

When she broke up with me, I finished off watching the series proper, because it was still running at the time, but it wasn't as good. The reason it wasn't as good had more to do with the fact that Aaron Sorkin had left the project than it did with the fact that it was our thing and now there was no more us. But after the series ended, I never went back and watched it again. I was afraid it would hurt to watch.

But recently I decided that I now, finally, have enough distance and have left her behind enough that I can go back and enjoy it. And I have been. It's really a fantastic show, and I can't imagine that I won't find myself watching through the whole thing again sometime once I've finished with this viewing. Every once in a while a character will say something and I'll think "Hey! I say that all the time! So that's where I got it from.

I could continue to talk about the reasons why I love the show, and specific scenes or just specific emotions that scenes evoke for a long time. But this is already longer than I executed it to be, and I don't really feel like writing more. And if I did feel like writing more, it would be to explain the topics that I said I had contemplated writing earlier. But, no. This entry ends here. The point I was trying to make is that watching the show again is a big step for me, and I'm very glad that I'm finally able to make it. Not just because it's a further sign that I've left her behind me, but because the absence of the show from my life for son long has really been a shame.

When I finish it, I'm going to revisit Sports Night also, which I have been avoiding for just as long and for much the same reason, and that is almost as much of a shame.


A long time ago, video games used to be different than they are now. It used to be hard--really actually hard--to get to the end. Nowadays, the total length of a game is included in the review, or the summaries, of the game in much the same way as the length of a movie. Everyone is expected to play the game from beginning to end. But it didn't used to be that way.

Back in the NES days, the point of video games wasn't to follow the story, or to play with tons of people around the world, or even your friend across town. The graphics were serviceable--and every iteration would be marveled at--but really the graphics were nothing to look at. The games were inherently fun. There was a little score bar at the top right hand corner of the screen, and that was the point of the game. Most people would never "beat" most of the games they bought. They wre hard, and the point wasn't to win. It was to play.

If you died, usually you got another life. You usually got 3 lives. When you lost one of the lives, you had to start the level you died in over. When you lost all three of your lives, you lost the game. But wait! You still had your continues. Now, your score goes all the way back down to 0, but you get to keep on playing from where you left off. You get three continues. But then, that's it.

Once you've used up your three continues, you have to start all over again from the beginning of the game. That was always the part that I didn't like.

I wanted to keep playing, but I didn't want to have to deal with all that easy bit in the beginning. I already did that bit. It's no longer fun. It's just the work I would have to put in to get to the bit that I was up to now. And it isn't always easy. Not only do I have to do it again, but I have to do it well. Better than I did it before, cuz otherwise I won't be able to advance any farther than I already did. So I would be faced with wanting to continue a game that I liked, but nob wanting to have to put in all of the workt to get to the new and interesting parts... Or even the part that was old and hard and I had died on previously, but wanted to try again at.

Sometimes I would put in the game and try from the beginning, but eventually I would get bored of it. Of playing that same part over and over. I didn't want to start from the beginning. I didn't want to do all that grunt work over. Limited Continues was a pain in the ass.

Now I'm gonna make the parallel to relationships. The beginning of relationships is fun. It's all full of getting to know each other and all that stuff. It's new and exciting. Everything goes well in the beginning. It's not till a few months, or maybe just one, that it becomes sort of a real relationship. That's when the "honeymoon period" ends, and maybe you have your first fight. Now you aren't getting to know each other anymore. Now you know each other and you're learning how to live with each other. (not necessarily, and hopefully not so quickly, actually sharing a home... Just deal with the stuff that isn't perfect like it seemed until now) This is the part where it starts to become a real relationship. You've gotten past the first couple easy levels, and now you're starting to lose a few lives. Maybe even waste a continue.

But that initial phase is the bit that scares me at the moment. Sure, it's great when it's currently happening, but I'm more interested in the part where I'm starting to lose some lives. That bit that I haven't been able to get past so far.

I'm not at the point where I'm giving up on the game entirely, and ready to trade it in at Gamestop or anything. Once I'm actually playing it I'm sre it's gonna be fun again. It's just hard to find the motivation to load up the cart knowing I've gotta start all over again.

Of course, with me, all of my relationships have started more organically, and by the time I realized I was playing I was already up to the second level... Past that first level which was really just a glorified tutorial. But I'm not in a place now where I think that sort of organic beginning is likely to occur. I've gotta actually go out and by the game this time. No friend is going to be bringing it over, and I'm not just going to stumble across it in a video arcade.

I've never done the classic dating thing before... I guess it really never seemed like a real thing to me. Just sort of the thing that happens in movies and on TV, but not so much in real life. I guess I'll find out, though. (man this line is cheesy....) There's a new game coming out that I'd like to try.