May 13, 2010


Apparently, NBC has canceled the original Law & Order, one season shy of its opportunity to break Gunsmoke's record. Law & Order kept me company during many an all-nighter over the years; frequently, it is the only coherent television to be found after 1 AM. During one summer at William & Mary, it took over our daytime hours as well. That and the animated Spiderman.

I know it sounds goofy, but I can mark eras of life according to the respective reigns Chris Noth, Jerry Orbach, Benjamin Bratt, and Carolyn McCormick as Dr. Elizabeth Olivet (not to mention the ongoing yeoman's work of Sam Waterston, S. Epatha Markson, and Steven Hill). The drug-driven death of Detective Briscoe's daughter? Broke my heart, damn it. Who didn't watch that show and 1) not dream of being part of the justice system 2) come away with a better understanding of narrative arc? Duh duh duh. 

I'd mourn it more, if I didn't have faith that TNT will provide many years of viewing to come.

Apropos of nothing, I've been thinking about my favorite childhood games: Candy Land, Mouse Trap, Battleship. Yahtzee. I liked the ones where chance trumped strategy. The ones I hated? Monopoly. Risk. What about you?

In the last 48 hours, I went from having no commitment to next year's AWP programming to being listed on a panel, listed on a reading, and proposing a panel myself. I'm excited about the variety in theme (one on using pop culture in literature; one in celebration of poetry; one talking about how a writer moves from recognizing the material of a memoir to writing the damn thing). Fingers crossed that a couple get approved.

That said, I remember the stress of being involved in just one event, when I ran a panel called "Breaking Lines on the Battlefield: The Poetry of Wartime" the the 2008 AWP. Ah, well--in the year when AWP comes to my hometown, it seems like my job to get in over my head. Short of perhaps Susan Shreve, I believe I live closer to the conference hotels than any other participating writer. Eeek! I fully expect you all to be crashing at my place.


Flash Paper Poetry said...

I would love to go to a panel on pop culture in poetry- I don't know how people can write otherwise (though some old fart poetry friends of mine are still firmly stuck on God and gardens- ick!)

Hope to see you sunday, if I can get back in time! Good read!


Anonymous said...

I actually plan to get a hotel room so I don't have to commute out to the 'burbs for a few days! I'm already looking forward to it...

Matthew Thorburn said...

Oh man, I hadn't heard that about L&O. That's sad news.

Steve said...

I am looking forward to the AWP in February. I am tentatively on a panel commemorating John Haines' contributions to American letters, along with Dana Gioia, Baron Wormser and Bruce Guernsey.

Lyle Daggett said...

To me, Law and Order has always seemed a little like a retread of the old Dragnet show from the '60's (and from radio years before that). There are some superficial differences -- Dragnet (at least the T.V. show) took place in Los Angeles, L&O in New York; Dragnet had a clean neat visual look, L&O has Rembrandt lighting and clutter; on Dragnet, Jack Webb's Joe Friday would shake his head sadly at the misbegotten state of the Youth of America, while on L&O the cops make cynical sarcastic remarks about murder victims.

But both purport to take at least some of their stories from actual crime cases (however modified they may be in the final scripts); both are mainly about the interactions of the cops with each other (mostly in quick terse dialogue), with crimesolving more or less an incidental plot device; and both have a strong undercurrent of "We police could do our jobs so much better if only we didn't have our hands tied by ridiculous stuff like respecting citizens' rights in a free society." Dragnet had the unforgettable "Dum, da dum dum" theme music at the beginning, L&O has the periodic "bong" sound when the scene changes, which I've always assumed was supposed to be suggestive of jail cell doors clanging shut. The similarities between the two shows first struck me years ago when Law and Order was first on T.V.

When I was in college (mid-1970's), one of the T.V. shows really big among friends of mine (I more or less liked it too) was Kung Fu, the old David Carradine show. That was also during the years of the first late-night rock music shows on T.V.: I remember endless Friday nights watching Wolfman Jack on Midnight Special. (At least I think it was Friday.) Also Saturday Night Live started around that time.

Favorite childhood games, for me -- depending on which period of childhood -- were chess and Stratego. I had three or four friends who would come over, and we would spend the afternoon being strategy board game/science fiction/Lord of the Rings/comic book geeks. (They were all into Lord of the Rings and science fiction, I was more into comic books.)

Some of us eventually also became poetry geeks. When I was in high school, only geeks wrote poetry. But that, after all, was back before, in the dreamtime... :)