August 5th, 2007

Tom Lehrer is Smug

a tale of two hospitals

Remember "Diner", the song yesterday that I said'll get embedded in your head for years to come? Yeah, still there, though it's a happy kind of song that invites apartment dancing.

Turns out the song was featured in an episode of Scrubs, and there's at least one fan video compilation on YouTube featuring clips of the cast members dancing around and such. While watching, I realized many similarities to Scrubs and the British comedy series Green Wing.

Well, sure, okay, I had already known that the two are surreal hospital comedies featuring eccentric doctors and staff. Both hospitals are teaching hospitals, and as such each series began as seen through the bewildered eyes of a newcomer who gradually becomes acclimated to the bizarre lifestyle (this is nothing new in terms of story devices but hey, it works.)

Both use dynamic devices that make their presentation unique: Scrubs uses the time-honored flashback and daydream joke, albeit with a "whoosh" sound effect; Green Wing separates scenes with ethereal time-lapse photography as the crew moves locations within the actual working hospital set. Both featured relationships both expected and surprising that garnered much fan reaction and speculation, and both have at least one Endearing Bastard Character who gains sympathy and character development even while remaining an asshole (Dr. Cox, meet Guy Secretan. On second thought, don't; I don't need to give anyone crossover ideas though I'm reasonably sure I didn't have to.)

There's a lot of differences, too: Scrubs features a voiceover narrative. Green Wing was smutty often to the point of repulsiveness while Scrubs, in keeping with American network television standards and practices, keeps things reasonably cleaner though still rife with innuendo. Green Wing also featured a healthy dose of improvisational scenes (much like the McKenzie Brothers material, Stephen Mangan and Michelle Gomez would shoot a whole batch of short scenes between Guy and Sue White all at once; these scenes would be used as interstitials whenever needed.) Scrubs treats its characters reasonably sympathetically; Green Wing was nihilistic and spared no one. Finishing after two seasons, its Christmas Special finale provided amounts of closure and finality not seen since Captain Blackadder and his men went over the top at the end of Blackadder Goes Forth.

But both, well, apparently feature dancing. Lots of it, and not always in the context of a musical number. Just characters bopping around with the hippin and the hoppin and a celebratory Cabbage Patch every now and then. What can we learn from this? That people in hospitals apparently love to dance.

Why am I writing about being amazed with such a picayune thing as dancing in hospital sitcoms? Well, what else is there to write about today? Exactly. I rest my case. Now run outside and play, because I sure can't.
Tom Lehrer is Smug

concave cat is concave. convex cat is convex.

There's an orange cat hangin round Hall Ave. It's a lovely longhaired orange and buff tabby, very sweet, very friendly to me. I approached it while it had its back turned to me and when I stopped far enough ahead to make an "I'm coming by" sound, it turned around and rolled over and said hello. It was sweet and friendly and happy to get the scritches, and it ran around my shoes and said "mine!" and claimed my ankles, and had a very wise look to it. I estimated its age to be probably around 2 or 3.

I'd walk a way down the sidewalk and turn back around and it'd be sitting nicely watching me. I'd bend down just slightly, maintaining eye contact, and the cat took it as "it's okay, you can follow me", which it did.

It was also incredibly scrawny. I mean, its back end, from the middle to the base of its tail, was concave. Its upcurving spine was visible, completely visible, and the skin ran underneath it. Almost the opposite of Abbie, who's nearly as wide as a regular cat is as long. It had no collar, but I couldn't see any visible bites or bug infestations or battle scars on it. I checked the hindquarters and judging from the reddish tinge Down Below, I think it's the kind of cat who goes into heat every so often.

I don't remember much about mama cats, seeing as how our housecats were mostly always spayed and neutered, so I can't tell if a concave belly section is indicative of a recent birth -- but I'd have thought a mama cat would be kinda big so she could feed her kittens, and also not be lolling about on the sidewalk in the middle of the day, following me around when I indicated it was okay.

We stopped at one part because someone had gotten into a car a bit up the street and was getting ready to drive off. The cat hesitated when it heard the door slam so we stopped. It has smarts, that one. As I was petting it, a neighbor came out to put her trash on the curb.

"Have you seen this cat around?" I asked. "Does it have a home?"

"Yeah, I think so," she replied. "Every year they shave it, so it must." And it was true; the legs looked like they'd been shaved a month or so ago and a longhair cat who hangs outside in the July and August heat is probably quite happy for that.

"It's so scrawny," I said. The neighbor said something about knowing The Meanest Cat On The Block and I couldn't believe it.

"How can this one be so mean?" I asked. "It certainly looks friendly to me."

"No, no," the neighbor said, pointing to a black cat heading down her porch steps. "That's the Meanest Cat On The Block."

That was where I bid orange tawny goodbye, for I did not want to lead it into the path of the Meanest Cat On The Block, even though I'm sure theirs will cross today at some point.

But I'm still worried about its skin-and-boniness. Surely whoever it owns is feeding it. And it certainly was friendly towards people, not half-feral and constantly suspicious like a few of the other neighborhood strays I've seen (hence the careful approach to give it enough time to run if it felt so inclined.) But no collar and no belly made me worried.

Since I don't know if it had a home, I didn't take the cat in and give it some food. Or even take it to the vet and have it checked out; if it has a home, it'd be missed. Besides, the last thing I need is another longhaired cat. I barely keep up with His Nibs' furballs as it is.

(comments suggest the poor dear might have Feline Leukemia or a tapeworm, which make sense. the cat certainly wasn't in any pain. in a right good mood, really.)