Sunday, February 28, 2016

Geek Heaven

I was a weird kid. I knew it then and don't deny it now. Often, the depth and range of a kid's weirdness may best be fathomed during adulthood and then, sometimes, in a splendidly satisfying moment of realization, that weirdness may even be cherished. Since most of my weird was the internal variety, not immediately obvious to others, I was spared the torture meted out to the oddest, the way weird, among us. Those poor bastards. Most of them never hurt a fly, but they paid dearly for their peculiar habits, preferences and especially their sartorially unacceptable choices. Still, it was difficult not to be irritated with some of them for being so blatantly geeky. I'm ashamed, but see now that I subscribed to the "they were asking for it" theory of natural selection. The ways of the weird can be complex and defiant in their singular nature. For me, hiding it became nearly an aerobic activity. For example, at the age of ten, I only had to see the expression on my best friend's face once after confessing that I had a crush on Chet Huntley. (Trust me. There are women twenty years older than I who will gasp at the bizarreness of that remark today.) I knew immediately to keep similar admissions to myself. And, of course, by similar, I mean that I thought that Eric Sevareid and Forrest Tucker were uber-sexy, too. See? I told you. WEIRD. A more benign aspect of my weirdness was that I loved educational films. When the film projector was rolled into the classroom and the other kids groaned, I was rapt. The very things signaling nap time to my pals were part of the thrall for me: the droning narration, the steady clicking of the film as it travelled from reel to reel. Who knows? Maybe this was a peculiar way of circling the show biz wagons for later in life. Anyway, I still get misty for the days when the History Channel broadcast - well, history programs. If you get up early enough, you can still watch the odd program on everything from Charlemagne to Albert Speer. But since the hijinks of likeable pawnbrokers beats hell out of educational films, can I really expect THC to cater to my admittedly arcane entertainment tastes? If you've read this far, I'm guessing some of you, at least, share a kinship with this weird business. It may be a leap to suggest that the big blanket of loving documentaries covers us all, but that's exactly where I'm going with this. I can't believe it took me until recently to even think of this, but I finally typed 'free online documentaries' into the Chrome browser and was astonished to see at least a dozen sites collectively containing hundreds and hundreds of this, probably my favorite visual entertainment. Nothing BUT documentaries! Be my guest. Enjoy! You're welcome! Oh, there's just one thing.... This caveat may be unnecessary to those less naive than I, but here goes: To me, 'document' implies truth: hence 'documentary' would seem to be a film based on facts. Yet after only a cursory investigation of titles and descriptions, it became apparent that what passes for truth is up for grabs entirely. Maybe we were spoiled on those earnest, dull classroom films but, by God, the speculative and conspiratorial nature of a bunch of today's offerings will probably appall some of you - the purists among the weird. I apologize. And, perhaps belatedly, I salute you.

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