’80s Basement Lecture Series, 18 Feb 2017: Satire

About a month ago I was feeling nostalgic about NYC, as I sometimes do, and I remembered that my friend Brook started a lecture series there where she would invite various experts to talk about their specialties. It all started in her living room with a small group then grew into an impressive crowd. She called it the Living Room Lecture Series.

This memory sparked in me a desire to copy her. I texted some friends to see what they thought:

Hey, friends! I’m thinking of starting a quarterly lecture series at my house. Maybe 20-minute talks, followed by discussion and treats. The lectures would come from us and cover a variety of topics. Reilly could talk about Family Guy, Maddie could discuss writing copy or songs, Kylie poetry or Ndichie, Jon film, etc. You don’t have to lecture if you don’t want to. Does this sound fun? Would you support this?

The replies:

  • OH MY HELL. I would ADORE THIS.
  • I strongly support this message.
  • YES!
  • If kids are welcome I’m totally interested. We used to do something similar in DC and I love that kind of thing! Also I’m also interested without the kid. Both ways, totally interested.

So we set a date and time, which was February 18 at 7:30pm. I thought about holding these meetings in our basement, which has wood paneling and strange patchy brown carpet from the ’80s. I decided to call this thing the ’80s Basement Lecture Series. Genius, I know.

This past Saturday the guests arrived, and we gave them a tour of our home. Then we ate some pizza and got really drunk. JUST KIDDING THERE WAS NO PIZZA. Just kidding, we had a lot of pizza and zero alcohol.

We headed down to the basement. I introduced Reilly, and he gave a terrific lecture about satire and its evolution on television over the past 30 years. He defined indirect and direct satire, using Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert as examples. He hinted a quick comparison of Tomi Lahren and Samantha Bee. He showed clips from the Simpsons and Parks and Recreation. We had a fascinating discussion about the current political climate and people who don’t get satire. And we discussed the purpose of satire: in what ways does it motivate us to act/speak/think? It was a lot of fun.

I looked at the group of us and wondered: Are THESE the people I like hanging out with, slightly strayed, slightly jack-Mormon AND incredibly faithful, moderate-to-left-leaning, super smart, extremely big-hearted; socially conscious, ever eager agents of change to make the world a better place?

Yes, YES.  A frillion times yes.

The conversation, their presence, their intelligence and spirit: I basked in it all.

I’m not gonna lie. It’s great bringing people together to share ideas and foster and strengthen friendships. But I may have started this lecture series just for me. Selfish little me.

Can’t wait for the next meeting.

I Should Love Abdoulaye Wade

This thought kept crossing my mind during church today, all three hours, in between wanting to pull my hair out and silently disagreeing with everything everyone was saying. And, in between texts. Yes, during church. Judge me already.

This thought surprised me, and I struggled with it.

I’m struggling with it.

A Little Text Savvy

Me, to a guy friend:  Would any of your hot [distinguishing quality] friends be interested in going out?

Guy friend: They will have to ask their wives or [girlfriends]? There might be one though. Why who is asking?

Me: Just me. I haven’t been on a date in a while. 🙂

Guy friend: Well, we can fix that in a few weeks. This [sic] next two weeks are pretty intense.

Me: You’re a stud. Good luck with everything the next couple of weeks.

Now all I need to do is find someone to go out with in the meantime.

A Compromise

Well, I guess the world now knows I can survive a whole week without chatting and texting. Not really much of an accomplishment; probably ticked a lot of you off. Better yet, a lot of you probably didn’t even notice. And that just goes to show how much or highly I think of myself. One’s world is awfully lonely when it’s egocentric.

Starting Friday, July 30, I’ll allow myself to send 35 texts a week. That’s five texts a day.

Two hours of chat a day. It may not be at the same time every day. It may be split up throughout the day.

This doesn’t mean I don’t want to talk to you.

Quite the opposite, actually.

Day Four

Yeah, four full days. With texting, I’ve found not too much of a difference. I’ve always texted more than received texts, but that’s because I’m pretty nosy and annoying. I understand that screening texts is far less guilt-inducing than screening calls. For me, it’s also considerably less offensive, just because the frequency of my texting can reach ultra-obnoxious levels. I’m very aware of this. Also, people have lives of their own and usually can’t be bothered. Besides, I don’t text more than a handful of people on a regular basis. If the news is urgent or important enough, an actual phone call will occur. Just last week I rang a couple of friends to tell them about the flash fiction contest. It was cool.

About a month and a half ago, I mass-texted a bunch of people I haven’t spoken to in a while, something like: “Hey, just checking in. Hope you’re well.” One of those people ended up calling me, and we talked and laughed for half an hour and arranged to meet for dinner later in the month.

Not chatting is a little more difficult, but it’s getting easier.  Before, I would click on a person’s name just to say hi, even though I have nothing to talk about. The brief contact is fun. The instant gratification has spoiled me.

Same thing goes, here: I’ll just send an email. If I’m not near a computer, I’ll call and leave a message.

If the person is busy, the email can sit. The phone call can wait.

If the person doesn’t use email, I’ll call. Or I’ll write an actual letter with paper and pen.

I’m reverse-plowing into the 20th Century: linear time can suck it.

I’ll ride out the rest of the week. Then I might consider cutting back with texting. Having entire conversations via my thumbs sounds more absurd every day. People don’t really need my texting as much as I’ve needed to text. But then again, this need is progressively decreasing.

Three weeks would change the habit. Hmm. If I can do one week, I can do two; if I can do two, I can do three. We’ll see.

I may resume chatting completely, however. I’ve dispensed/received advice and discussed papers/stories/etc. pretty effectively this way. Still, it’s nothing an email or phone call couldn’t achieve.

Am I alienating myself by doing this? No more so than usual.

Status as of 26/07/2010

I broke down and sent one text this morning, about 30 minutes ago. It was more or less to confirm plans for Thursday night. An old French classmate and I are going to see her voice teacher / my friend from New York City perform in a production of 110 in the Shade at the Hale Center Theater in Orem. I’ve already heard this girl sing – I know she can wail – but I haven’t seen her on stage. I’m very excited. I missed the run when Audra McDonald performed, but I already saw her last summer in Twelfth Night in Central Park for Shakespeare in the Park. She’s lovely. And she’s perfect in the film production of Wit with Emma Thompson. I’ve tried to get a few of you to see this film with me – I own it and everything – to no avail. It’s an amazing film. Sure, it’s depressing as hell, but very well done.

A few people texted me this weekend, and I didn’t respond. Sorry about that. I usually send about 10 messages for every three or four I receive. I did make up for it by leaving a few messages and talking on the phone with a friend for over an hour. It was hard leaving my phone alone, but I figure if I can last this week without texting, I might give it up for lent. I prefer human voices and somewhat thoughtful emails. Kind of takes me back to 1996 when my life was so, so much simpler.

Another short story is in the works. I’m at 3,300 words, and it feels about 60% done.

Oh. I’m having a crisis of faith.

There’s that.