Tuesday, May 11, 2004


So it was a long day today at work, one of those first in the office in the morning, last out at night kinda days. The long hours have been a rarity so far, but appplied in this case primarily because I wanted to nail a rules set to the ground by tomorrow morning so that five other important tasks based on that rules set could go forward. The entire proceedings left me a little drained, so I sat down to surf and came across the reunion special for the old Dick Van Dyke show.

The show itself was all memory, threaded together with a ghost of a plot (Alan Brady pulls the surviving cast members together to write him a eulogy). You're aware that Rose Marie isn't moving around so good, and Mary Tyler Moore has tight wrinkles about the eyes. And the good lines were given to the minor players - Alan and Millie Helper. And there is a heaping helping of clips. But looking at it I was struck by how much this show influenced my own upbringing and my view of the world.

I mean, Rob Petrie has a job as a corporate creative, works with other creatives who both respect and like him, has a nice house, and a beautiful, supportive wife. A lot of how I deal with others comes out of watching the Dick Van Dyke show (mostly in syndication, now that memory kicks in, so I never really saw the cigarette comercials in the original). And the fact that I have a strong, mutually supportive relationship with Kate comes as no surprise to me, because that's what Rob and Laura had (Though I am much more likely than Kate to open a rubber raft in the living room).

And the show had no real "bad guys". Even Alan and Mel Cooley, the management foils, had their redemptive moments and their little victories. The plots were driven by basic weirdness of everyday life and things being a little out of kilter. I mentioned the show to Kate and she immediately mentioned the rock in the basement, the banjo-playing brother, and the Rosebud story. Forty years on, and this stuff still sticks in the mind.

Often I ask friends who are going through identity crisis "What TV Show are you in?" Its often a good shorthand for how they view the world. I know people who work in a very "M*A*S*H"-like environment. I've had my months and years as Bob Newhart, and there was a period when I bought into the idea that our game design department was the creative version of "The Right Stuff" (OK, that's a movie, but you get the point). Media does provide role models for our behavior, and an operating system for modern-day survival. One of the reasons that I am likely comfortable with what I'm doing is that it fits into a mode that I recognize. On my good days I can be Rob Petrie. On my bad days I can be Buddy Sorrel. On my worst days, which I want to be few and far between, I can be Alan Brady.

That's it. More later,