Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Brain is weird and/or amazing. Probably mostly weird.

Remember how I was telling y'all about my love for MacGyver the other day? (It will never die, by the way. I don't care what anyone says. #Mac4Lyf)

Anyway, I've been thinking about how certain movies or TV shows really make an impression on you, and kinda "stick" with you. Books do this too of course. But because of the visual aspect, for me, I'll think of certain shows or scenes from different movies often. Usually, they're funny.

Here's one that you may or may not remember. Anytime I hear the country Yemen mentioned I always think of this one Friends episode. You know the one? Where Chandler can't bear to break up with this annoying girl, so he tells her his work has transferred him to Yemen. And she is so sad and wants to maintain a long distance relationship, so he has to go through with the whole charade. It's hilarious the lengths he goes to in order not to have to breakup with her. He prepares, he goes to the airport, he goes to the gate--and she still won't leave. So, he picks up his bag and says in this desperate voice, "I'm goin' to Yemen!" And goes and gets on the plane. Anytime anyone says the word Yemen, Jason and I look at each other and smile, cause we're both thinking of that episode. I think of it, too, when I'm going to stupid lengths to avoid an uncomfortable situation. Going to Yemen!

(You can watch it here if you wanna. It's pretty funny.)

But the last few days, with all this end-of-the-world talk, I keep thinking of this one particular episode of The Twilight Zone. Of course, that series was before my time, but it used to come on late at night when I was a kid and teenager, and my sister and I would often stay up and watch it. They never really scared me, but they always left an impression. The one I've been thinking of is this one that starred Burgess Meredith. It's called Time Enough at Last.

Basically, Meredith plays this shy, bookwormish bank teller who is henpecked by his wife, belittled by his boss, and is generally pretty miserable. He loves to read, and is absorbed in books, a habit that gets him in constant trouble at work and home.

So, one day, he goes for his lunch break in the bank's vault. And while he is down there, reading in peace, there's a thundering explosion above. It knocks him out at first, but when he comes to he leaves the vault. He comes up, realizes there's been some kind of nuclear explosion and that everyone is dead but him. He wanders around the town, in disbelief. He gets to the point where he wants to kill himself, but then he sees the ruins of the public library in the distance. Here are stacks and piles of books, all in good condition, all readable. Finally, he has time to read all he could ever want, with no one to bother him. He runs over to the dusty steps of the ruined library and sits down. He picks up a book. He looks down to open the book, and his thick glasses fall off his face and break on the pavement.

Without his glasses, he is basically blind. The episode ends with him weeping on the steps of the library, knowing that he's alone now, with all the time in the world and all these books around him and he can't read a single one.

I don't know how old I was when I first saw that episode...maybe 12? But it made such an impression on me. I was just so sad for this character--unaccountably sad, really--I felt his despair and hopelessness. I was totally drawn into this old black and white, 30 minute TV show with its sorta cheesy plot and script. I can remember sitting in our living room at home and feeling such a sense of loss for him. I think it's the whole idea of your dream being right in your reach, and then knowing you've lost it. And for me, at that young age, to think about what it might be like to be really, really alone...sheesh, that was a lot for me to take in.

Dude, I don't know, but it's stayed with me, and this week I've thought of that episode several times. The mind is a funny thing, isn't it? I don't even know why I'm writing about it, except that I'm blogging everyday this month and needed to write something! But seriously, it interests me; the little pieces of culture--books, TV, songs, jokes, history--that provide the associations we make with what happens to us and around us.

What are your "landmark" shows, books, movies? The ones that regularly are recalled to your memory? Some more of mine involve: Monty Python movies, Little House on the Prairie books, Star Trek, Seinfeld, and stories my dad would tell us about when he was a little boy. There's this one about a dismembered big toe buried in the barn...but enough about me.

What about you?


  1. Oh my yes! That episode is one of my all time favorites! The genius of The Twilight Zone was that it tapped into deep emotions like loss, fear, powerlessness, and alienation. The best episodes of that show do stay with you. Do you remember the one with the couple on the train that seems to always pick them up and return to the same station. It's a loop and they can't escape. Look it up online. It's great! The actor was Cliff Robertson. I won't give it way though.

  2. I watch very little tv but what sticks with me tends to be odd: Murdoch from the A~Team hitchhiking a jumbo jet as it takes off. I lol everytime I think of it. And an old BBC show called Callan, a spy thingie, that began with this duh~dah~dah~duh music & a lone swinging lightbulb that suddenly shatters. Bit like life really. ☺ And I must say, if you liked MacGyver you really should check out Jonathon Creek, Cute ~ & twice as clever.

  3. The Ghost Toe! That story got mentioned this past weekend around a campfire at the mountain house!

    I'll be back later.

  4. I absolutely love the Twilight Zone. Not the new ones, but the only timey black and white ones. I often think of this one episode- a dad thinks the world is ending so he makes a little end-of-the-world bunker for his family. His wife and kids decide to go out of town at some point and an explosion of some kind happens. He goes down to his bunker, sad that his family is very likely dead, but he feels lucky to be alive. At the very end, we find out that just one small city has been devastated by the explosion and the rest of the world, including his wife and kids, are fine.

    It reminds me that things are not what they seem sometimes and that there is a bigger pictures, even if I am too self-involved to see it sometimes.

  5. Whenever I make a sheperds pie I always think of the Friends episode where Rachel makes one & Ross says 'it tastes like feet!'

    I also have lots of quotes from Monty Python & Seinfeld that seem to slip into everyday life...I should get out more.