January 10th, 2008

krazy koati

This is the music that you hear as you watch the credits

My brain has found a new way to drive me crazy: it's not satisfied anymore with just making up episodes of TV shows I'd never seen before. As the alarm woke me up -- which is pretty much what it takes for me to remember dreams, so I don't know how long this has been going on -- it was in the midst of the opening segment for one of those single-camera, laugh-track-free sitcoms. The protagonist is a reasonably intelligent if not overachieving young woman and she's surrounded by her friends who are not explicitly zany in the three-camera sitcom fashion but are instead mildly weird in their own ways. They're attending their hometown's medium-sized college, and one of the driving comic tensions is that several of her friends are in a course with her father, who was approaching as the alarm woke me up.

Her father was Robin Williams, portraying Robin Williams, with just a touch of House to justify him wielding a cane with which to terrify students, and, of course, the audience. He was ambling towards the protagonist and her friends with a stream of what were clearly supposed to be amiable bits of small talk such as a medium-sized college professor feels safe to inflict on students before they run away. My suspicion is that he was an English professor, mostly because of the dramatic requirements: you can have classroom discussions in an English class that the audience can follow, whereas majors like History can get into very detailed technical points, and a science or mathematics or engineering course turns into jargon in those rare instances when a student can be provoked into speaking. That jargon can be beautiful (``the polhode rolls without slipping on the herpolhode lying in the invariable plane'') but it's death to the audience's interest. But, again, there's that Robin Williams problem.

Trivia: On 10 January 1931, the specifications and plans for the Hoover Dam, the power plant, and works -- a hundred pages of text and 76 drawings -- were made available to interested parties at $5 a copy. Source: Hoover Dam, Joseph E Stevens.

Currently Reading: Parting the Desert: The Creation of the Suez Canal, Zachary Karabell.