It’s Must See TV Thursday so I’ll give you the quick rundown but TV isn’t where things are at today. This vacation blast of live TV included a few stages of the Tour de France, the first episode of “Good Luck Charlie”, “American Ninja Challenge” – or something like that, “Wipe-out”, and “America’s Got Talent”. I was surprised by AGT. I’d never seen it (I don’t watch broadcast TV at home) and it was soooooooo much better than that Idol show. It’s the first time I’ve ever liked Howard Stern. We also liked that Ninja show, it was sort of like a serious “Wipe-out” and the idea of extreme obstacle course racing was intriguing but there was too much filler for me to become a regular. It was more of an encouragement to hit the kettlebells harder.
I've always gone for immersion experiences – reading Ludlum on European business trips or Hemingway when working with the more highfalutin type of client. I took it to a new level yesterday. As you may recall A Town Like Alice and one of the main characters in the story is the Malay jungle. There are mosquitoes and such fevers as dengue and malaria. Many people groaning in agony at being consumed by bugs literal and figurative. We took a hike yesterday through the woods to see some waterfalls. The trails were flooded, the air was thick with the humidity, and within a few moments of entering beneath the shaded canopy, we were beset upon by the hungry hoard. I killed a full score during the first engagement, my mates having similar results.
For the next 45 minutes we were pursued by the blood-thirsty things. It was something I haven’t experienced in years. I was constantly reminded of the WWII POW's in the jungle and thinking, “This isn’t so bad. My air conditioned van isn't that far away.” And we got to see the falls.
Later that night my wife and I bathed the burning forehead of #3 as his body voided itself of everything it had consumed over the last month. Not content with that, it tried to also clear out everything it was going to eat in the future. I will admit that I've been to a few places where there have been some folks who really, really got into throwing up and none of those people had anything on the full-body effort or blood curdling, finger nail on blackboard vocal accompaniment of that poor child. I’m so glad it wasn't dengue. He seems fine this morning but again, I was thrust fully into the plight of those historically fictitious women and children. Perhaps all the more so because I had just put the book down when the sickness came and it had appeared that they (the characters) might be through the worst of it.
Now, please forgive a flashback on the power of cinema. When I was a small boy, very small, I wandered into the living room while my parents were watching a show. I didn't know what it was but but there were soldiers so I was instantly captivated. They had taken a man prisoner and led him through a street to the outside of a building where they nailed his hands to the wall and whipped him until his body just hung limply on the nails. I knew nothing of the story, just that scene, with the man defiant until the end, the soldiers obeying the commands of their leader, the crowd of people watching in horror but helpless under guard, and mostly seeing his hands nailed like that. I remember talking to my parents about how you could see that they didn't really nail his hands; the spikes went between his fingers. It didn’t matter, the story was too powerful, I always saw the nails going through his hands. For years I was haunted by what had been portrayed in that anonymous scene more than thirty years ago. I can still see it in my mind’s eye. I could picture it perfectly last night when I read it in A Town Like Alice.
Today is Independence Day in the United States. There’s a reason it’s called that.