Friday, May 21, 2010

Commentary for TAL - Home movies

(For some reason, I was not at all shocked to find him near the hospital and being so friendly with me. He was probably digging for pills to take home)

In what I hope will be a series, I would like to take a little time each week and comment on how "This American Life" has inspired me or sparked a thought in me. This weeks broadcast was about home movies. During the prologue prior to the first of five (!) acts, Alan Berliner talked about his research into home movies. He spent six years researching home movies and saw over half a million home movies in that time. He noticed some common themes. The one that stood out to me the most was that we film children from age negative to age 12, and then we don't film them again till their wedding. Puberty is a time for putting away the video camera. 

I found this interesting because I used to share a video camera with my brother. It was big, and bulky and attached to a VCR that had to be carried around with it. The battery life was just under an hour and so any serious taping required being near a power outlet. The Camera was a gift from my grandfather, on my dad's side. Somewhere, lost in a box, are hours of video of us grandchildren being cute and being filmed. Despite stories I've heard about my grandparents not liking being around small children, I look back and have fond memories of being taped.

This video camera I shared with my brother has one distinct memory tied into it. When I was twelve, I was really good friends with a kid named Ryan. On Ryan's screened in back porch we used to put on little shows. Once we got the camera, we filmed all of our shows. Much like the people in Act II of this weeks episode (podcast), we became some what popular. All of Ryan's siblings wanted to get in on the action. We even filmed the dog, Daisy, in several movies. There were of course many ninja scenes where Ryan directed and starred in the fighting, always beating out his younger brother, David. I stood by and filmed, where occasionally you can hear me in the distance calling out shots. 

This story doesn't end when we were 13, though. What we did with that camera started something that would turn amazing. While I went off and did sports and tech theatre, Ryan stuck with film. He went to film school and recently co-directed and wrote a documentary for the History Channel. I am always impressed with where things start.

My other comment for this week's episode would be during the fifth act. The fifth act contains David Sedaris. I used to really love his comedy, but now I don't. The nice thing about this piece was that it didn't end in comedy. It ended in a way that was so close to home, I could see myself doing the same thing. If you only listen to one part of the episode this week - listen to that piece (and ignore all of David's swearing.)

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