We Gather Together to Ask for Digressing

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Isee by the old calendar on the wall that Thanksgiving is tomorrow. That was not my first observation, of course. My first observation was that it’s November already.

This alarmed me, because I usually notice it when we begin a new month, but this one slipped right past me, probably because I was among the living dead when it rolled around. That’s what happens when you’re in a highly-successful school play like I just was — it gets to where you have to make a decision between sleeping and doing schoolwork. Being the responsible citizen, I chose to stay up late writing columns instead of doing either.

Anyway, Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and if your family is anything like mine … you are probably in serious need of counseling. (A family-related anecdote that you will perhaps find amusing: when we got our swimming pool a few years ago, it came with these stickers that we were supposed to put on it with pictures of stick persons being crossed out as they dive into stick swimming pools, and the words say, “No jumping or diving.” My brother put those stickers on our toilets. To my knowledge, no one has disobeyed yet.)

Anyway, Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and if your family is anything like mine, this is not the only time they all get together. My family, for example, assembles into one big mass at least once a month to celebrate whoever’s birthday it is that month. This is fairly convenient, because my grandfather was born in Lake Elsinore and, to my knowledge, has never been out of the city limits except for occasional weekend vacations to Wildomar, and all of his children and grandchildren live within an hour of Lake Elsinore. Most of them live IN Lake Elsinore. It’s all really very sad. I could see a family being born in a city like Seattle or Denver and never leaving because it’s such a great city with so much to do and just overall a pleasant place to live, but this is LAKE ELSINORE, for crying out loud! The town whose motto is “You’re not livin’ till you’re leavin’!” The town with, by some estimates, as many as FOUR THOUSAND Circle K’s, and not a single movie theater! The town that had a cultural conniption fit when K-mart came to town, meaning that only a Pic ‘N Save was needed to make it possible for mothers to dress their children in tacky-looking clothing without ever actually leaving the city. The town… well, nevermind.

Anyway, Thanksgiving is tomorrow, which means that by noon, your house will be crawling with relatives, half of whom will want to watch football, and the other half of whom will want to watch the “Twilight Zone” Marathon on channel 5. As host or hostess, whichever you happen to be, your responsibility to your guests is to moderate these types of arguments fairly and rationally. For instance, you might say that they can watch the football game up until the time when that one episode with the doll who talks and kills people comes on, and then they have to change the channel. Or you could — oh, forget it. This column is going nowhere. I give up. Pass the turkey.

This column is not very good.

KTLA Channel 5, a Los Angeles station, used to have a "Twilight Zone" marathon every Fourth of July and Thanksgiving. It was a Southern California tradition, like the Rose Parade, or rioting. My family loved it (the TZ marathon, I mean), and we'd always leave the TV on all day so that "Twilight Zone" could help make our holidays brighter. Imagine our dismay, then, when the Sci-Fi Channel bought exclusive rights to "The Twilight Zone" a few years ago, meaning that ONLY Sci-Fi Channel could ever broadcast the show. No more Thanksgiving and Independence Day marathons. For my family, it meant no more "Twilight Zone" at all, since they don't get Sci-Fi Channel on their cable system.

"The Twilight Zone" (1959-64) is one of the most important series in television history. It came in a twilight zone of American history: The '50s were over, but the things we now associate with "The '60s" hadn't begun yet. "The Twilight Zone" is the grandfather of every science-fiction TV show and many sci-fi movies made today. I can think of about a half-dozen episodes of "The X-Files" whose major plot devices were previously used on "The Twilight Zone," and several stories on the popular "Simpsons" Halloween episodes have been direct "Twilight Zone" parodies. Even the phrase "twilight zone" denotes a distinct idea of eeriness, oddness, or unusualness, as does the famous musical theme from that show.

I could go on forever. Some of the acting, writing and cinematography of the show was decades ahead of its time, and some of the ideas and images presented were among the most poignant and disturbing ever on television. It was a great show, I guess is my point.

Also, I would like to point out that this column is not very good.


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