Monday, October 1, 2007

THE WOODS WOULD BE SILENT ... Current mood: Singing my song!

This morning, I heard a mocking bird singing in my backyard. I have a variety of birds besides mockers: cardinals, robins, blue jays, hummingbirds, goldfinch, and the ubiquitous sparrows. Most of them don't sing like mocking birds, but there is a lot of cheeping and chittering. I don't run the others off because they don't sing as pretty as the mocking birds.

The sparrows in particular amuse me. I know they moved in and pushed out a lot of native species, bluebirds for instance, but -- done is done. Last summer, I had a serious infestation of webworms. I was energetically cutting out the infested branches when a sparrow landed on a branch about 6 feet away with a worm dangling from its mouth. I stared at it. It stared at me. Then I quit cutting out the branches and just opened the webs, to give it and its cohorts a better shot at the worms.

I just went out and looked. The trees I cut the branches out of are doing fine – and so are the ones I just opened up the webs. The way I look at it: if the birds will do most of the work for me, why not?

This past week, I read a couple of comments on blogcritics dissing fantasy and community theater. I thought then about the comment I read somewhere that the woods would be silent if only the best singers among birds sang.

If only intellectual fare like literary fiction were published, if only PBS were allowed on TV, if only serious drama were presented on Broadway, what would the rest of us do? I sometimes read literary fiction, but I find most of it is boring. I sometimes like some serious theater, but I find most of it trying too hard to be too earnest for me to enjoy. I like TV that presents serious intellectual content, but I watch CSI and Law and Order, too. Of the three fields, I think I'll take the intellectual content on TV, but for those who do like literary fiction or serious drama, well, just because I find it boring doesn't mean I think any the less of you for enjoying it.

People who do diss genres of fiction that they don't care for or levels of theater or whatever remind me a lot of the kind of rednecks in the old south who looked down on blacks – only they didn't call them blacks, they used the "n" word. Some of those rednecks who were only repeating what they had been taught got over it pretty fast when someone pointed out the serious flaws in their logic – not to mention their theology, -- but some rednecks persisted in their prejudice. It was pointed out that they had serious feelings of inferiority. There was no one they could feel superior to so they picked on a group. "We ain't much, but we're better than them thar "N—s." You know what I mean.

I found that pretty sad, just like I find the above kind of intellectual snobbery sad.

Some one said to me, "I think less of you for making it a point to watch American Idol."

I replied, "I think less of you for making a statement like that."

But actually, I don't because I think she was just mouthing the kind of comment that intellectual snobs make, and like the rednecks who were just repeating what they had been taught, when the error in her logic was pointed out to her, she desisted.

The thing is that playwrights make money from community theater, money they can use to keep on writing and keep theater alive. Most of us can't go to New York to see Broadway shows; we can't even get to road companies of Broadway shows. Community theater is our only chance.

The airways would be silent if only Mozart were played.

There is a lot of TV that I think is pretty dumb, but it keeps people off the streets – both the viewers and the people who work in the industry. I have a habit of looking down on sit-coms because they are so-o-o predictable, but little kids like predictable stories, it helps them learn to read. Maybe it helps grown-ups learn something, too. Some of the actors and production personnel go on to do more interesting work, too.

I don't pretend to be an intellectual, "egghead" they used to be called. I don't need to prove anything. I enjoy the woods when all the birds sing. If only the ones that qualified for the Metropolitan Opera sang, it would be pretty quiet out there.

Another anonymous quotation: A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer; it sings because it has a song.

The writers of fantasy have a song; the good people of community theaters have a song; sit-com actors, writers and producers have a song; country and western singers have a song; romance novelists have a song; I have a song; even the people who look down on other singers have a song –even if it sounds more like the cawing of crows; --we all have a song,

It would be a very quiet world out there if only the elite were singing.

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