Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Taping At Home

So here's the phone conversation with my wife yesterday:

Her: I won't be home after work, I have to go shopping for the thing Saturday.

Me: Yeah, OK. I'll send the kids to Chipotle, no problem. When will you be home, do you think?

Her: I don't know, I hate shopping, I'll probably get fed up after a couple of hours.

Me: OK, I'll see you then. Oh, by the way, Good Morning America is sending a camera crew to our house tonight.

I'll tell you: that cheered her up.

Mmm, no, not really.

When they do one of these shows, they go fast. Apparently somebody saw the story in the Post the other day about sex-ed in different cities and states, and thought that would make a cool topic for their TV show. I thought it was a good topic, too, I didn't know what other places did.

So yesterday I got a couple of emails and then a phone call. Nothing too clear, they're doing this show, needed a parent, I came to mind. Funny, I felt like I had to almost apologise for not having a gay kid -- that would've made it better, they thought. At first. But then they started thinking about it, and decided that might actually be better -- Straight Guy With Straight Family Fights for Gay Rights. Man Bites Dog, absolutely.

They weren't sure when the camera crew could come. They had another interview to do, and then the President was speaking or something, and they didn't know if the crew they wanted would have to go to that. You know, this happens every day, people have to choose whether to visit me or the President of the United States.

The guys showed up about nine thirty. Two guys in a van. I had run around when I got home, sucking up the dust bunnies and moving piles of debris so we could have a camera shot without stacks of junk in the background. I figured either the kitchen table, or the little sofa in the living room.

These guys came in and sort of took over the house, striding from room to room, eyeballing the layout. They decided on the living room, but didn't like the sofa. It turned out we don't have the right kind of chairs. I told them, "If I knew you were coming I would've run out and bought the right kind of furniture."

We ended up bringing in the two wrought-iron chairs from the front yard, plopping them right in the middle of the living room.

First thing they say: "Do you have a speaker-phone?" I guess my cell phone has a little speaker on it, but ... Turned out they had something we could use.

Then a crisis: my living-room electrical outlets are ungrounded. Two prongs. Well, it works OK for Christmas-tree lights, which is about the only time we plug anything in there. I found a couple of adapters, and they found outlets in other rooms they could reach, and eventually they had the living room totally filled up with lights on tripods, shining all different directions.

The one guy said he'd been fishing all day, so we talked about that a little bit. He was talking about shad, which ... I don't think we have in Arizona, at least I never heard of them, growing up. The other guy was from Iowa, and he didn't know about shad, either. Must be an East Coast thing. Anyway, this guy was fishing for bass on a farm pond, and the water's still too cold. We all agreed that it was still way worth doing, even if the fish weren't biting.

I guess it took about a half hour to set it all up. These guys were like a regular Laurel and Hardy. What? Huh? Never mind, ask your parents who that was, or your grandparents. They made jokes about each other and gave each other a hard time, like guys do everywhere when they have to work together all day. It looks like one does video and the other one does audio, but really it takes two people to set it all up. Like, one sits in the chair while the other one arranges the lighting, with a bunch of lights at different angles, this big round reflector, a giant floodlight on a pole with a kind of venetian-blind thing that directs the light on the person being interviewed but leaves the rest of the room mostly dark. Stuff kept shifting, and they were adjusting this and that, helping each other out. At one point they put a dimmer on the table-lamp, and then took it out again, I think because it was making a noise in the microphone.

Then they got the producer on the phone. She interviewed me from New York, over a cell phone. The first question, I swear, I gave her a great answer. It was classic, I was funny, articulate, threw in some highly-detailed facts, smiled handsomely ... and they said I was talking too loud and looking in the wrong place. See, the lady is on the phone, and you want to speak loudly because of that, but I was wearing a lapel mike, so I didn't need to.

And the hardest thing. The sound guy is sitting in the chair facing me, holding the phone, and I'm supposed to look at him, like I'm talking to him. So the lady on the phone asks me a question, and I answer this other guy. It seems that it's especially bad if I look right at the camera, which is behind his shoulder, they really didn't like me to do that. Now and then the guy in the chair would nod or point to his face, to remind me to talk to him. Do you know how weird that is, when somebody asks you a question and you answer somebody else?

Anyway, I hate this. I am not a made-for-TV kind of guy. TV is all about appearances. The world is a two-dimensional screen, and the meaning of a thing is what it looks like. Sorry, but I don't do that well with that. Like, once there was a noise while I was saying something, and they said, "OK, say that again." Can you do that? I think they'll probably try to salvage the first one.

Of course I had some things ahead of time that I wanted to say, and naturally I forgot. Like I said. Sometimes I see these politicians on TV, and they give the same answer, no matter what the question was, because they understand how TV works. Nobody quotes the question afterwards, they only quote the answer. So if they ask you about global warming and you answer about the economy, the next day everybody will be talking about what you said about the economy. See, I can't do that. Let's say, that's one reason I'd never make it as a politician. Not the only reason, just one.

Afterwards the guys took their time winding up their cords. We showed them my daughter's paintings, and they talked about their kids. And of course the guy from Iowa had to talk to my wife, who's also from Iowa, and they talked about these little towns that they both knew -- the technical college there, the fountain in the middle of town, stuff like that. The other guy made a couple of jokes about the secret Hawkeye handshake, because those two were off in a world of their own.

We have these little white fences in our doorways to keep the dog out of certain rooms, so the cats can have some peace, mostly. At first the fences were about a foot and a half high, but after a while I sawed down to about six inches. The dog never figured out that he could step over it. Now we just lay the fence down in the doorway, flat. He could walk right across it, but he won't. The camera guys thought that was pretty funny.

It was about eleven thirty when they left. They said they had another job at five in the morning. I don't know if I'm going to watch this show, I usually just break out in a sweat when I see myself on TV. I have what they call "a face for radio." Well, whatever, you do what you have to do.


Blogger andrea said...

Oh, Jim, you probably were honest and talked about the facts. How will that go against CRC lies and hyperbole!??!

March 21, 2007 6:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

andrear said:Oh, Jim, you probably were honest and talked about the facts. How will that go against CRC lies and hyperbole!??!


Just great like it always does.
CRC always looks like the bigots and hate filled people they are.

Wonder it Michelle T will talk about her gay cousin?


March 21, 2007 6:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The GMA broadcast this morning said 93% of parents want sex education to be included in our public schools and 73% of parents want to include information about sexual orientation in the lessons.

This shows how far out of the American mainstream the suers are.


March 22, 2007 9:15 AM  
Blogger andrea said...

CRC lives in its own "reality"- they better wake up and recognize they live in Montgomery COunty, MD. Maybe they can take Poolesville and secede?

March 22, 2007 9:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think CRC types should count on much support for their view of human sexuality anywhere in MoCo. The first person who complained about the Rockville Crisis Pregnancy Center's "gum game" was the parent of a student at Poolesville High.

A couple of former and current officers of CRC sit on the RCPC board. Last I heard, RCPC is attempting to raise funds using their expulsion from MCPS as a marketing tool, whining along the lines of "Poor us. MCPS cut us off at the knees when all we did was expose a couple of thousand MCPS students to each other's oral germs during our years there."

March 22, 2007 2:34 PM  

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