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February 08, 2014

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I'd suspect that high school is considered a more universal experience, for both people that age and those who are older. It's also more uniform as far as what a high school experience is "supposed" to be. So it may not be that they're targeting viewers that age, but that characters of that age are considered to be interesting to a broader (or more lucrative) set of target viewers than college students would be. E.g., the high schoolers are probably more interested in HS than they are in college... and the college students are probably also more interested in HS than the high schoolers are in college. That's pure speculation, though.

I wonder if it's because shows about high school tend to draw a broader demographic than shows about college. As Nombrilisme Vide points out above, high school is a more universal experience. Some quick (and thus not necessarily accurate) research shows that around 75% of the population has graduated from high school while only around 34% have graduated from college. I only include graduates because I suspect that people won't want to watch nostalgic shows set in situations where they didn't fulfill the stated objective.

Also, judging by some of the shows I've watched, writers just don't know how to make college interesting.

I'm guessing it's because your usual sitcom character is a moron who behaves badly, and K-12 is the last level of education where you can plausibly get away with that.

You can set some great dramas in higher education, but moronic sitcoms are all they want to produce.

A couple quick guesses.

(1) Kids + parents + teachers has more potential for interesting dynamics and plot-advancing conflicts than kids + teachers alone.

(2) College is awesome. High school sucks. It's way easier to write interesting plots about bad things than good things. (A show called "Breaking Good" would not likely have had much of a run.)

Nombrilisme Vide:

a) Yes, HS is more universal. But most TV shows have specialized settings, especially those related to law and/or crime.

b) high schoolers are probably more interested in HS than they are in college -- but generally speaking, when you're writing for young people, they're more interested in stories about kids at the *next* stage of development than they are in stories about characters their own age. Children look *up* -- classic example being that Seventeen magazine is never read by girls over 16.

Teenagers *should* be eager for shows about 18-22 y.os, about college students and kids just leaving home. Most people change enormously in those years, whether they're in college or not, so the stories should come really easily.

PJC (hi! long time no see!):

writers just don't know how to make college interesting

As I said to NV, it should be a piece of cake to make stories about 18-22 y.o.s interesting, whether they're in college or not. People change a *lot* in those years, in all kinds of ways that are naturally both dramatic and funny -- getting stories out of it *should* be laughably easy.

But I think maybe the real problem is what you're talking about.

People stay in high school whether they want to or not: it's something you *survive*. College is actually, at core, about *learning*: if you're not there to learn, you're doing it wrong.

And even if they're more coasting than involved in the life of the mind, college students actually spend a lot of their time talking and thinking about their studies.

TV is, generally speaking, crap about showing people thinking. But I may be being unfair to TV, a little, because I can't think offhand of many books about college-age kids, either -- much less the sort of book series that often gets made into TV shows.

I think it may be, in part, a matter of inertia. When TV was new, the portion of kids attending college was much smaller than it is now. So High School was what audiences could relate to, while (especially for those already well past their twenties) college was something that only the elite did.

And then, TV is seriously allegric to trying something too new. When somebody does, and does it well, it can be a stunning success. As anyone who was around when Star Trek first appeared can testify. But that doesn't change the overwhelming conservatism of TV producers. (Or maybe it's TV advertisers who are afraid to associate with something too new.) After all, Star Trek resulted in several Star Trek spin-offs . . . but not a lot of other sci fi shows. In spite of the occasional effort like Firefly.

Doc,

Beyond what has been said about universality (your point about hs kids looking up in age may account for the popularity of two broke girls; God help us) here are two things I thought off the top of my head:

College students themselves tend to consume, alternately, serious subject matter and Adult Swim. In between drinking, sexual exploration, seriously worrying about the state of the world and some actual class attendance. The post high school versions of those are not, in even a sitcom, very conducive to primetime television without requiring very serious topics or Animal House frivolity.

High school students, juniors and seniors in particular, believe they are all grown up. College is a delay in becoming rich, famous, wealthy, or whatever easier of success they anticipate. Not that they don't want to go, (see drinking etc above).

One of my favorite shows ever was about the lives of 1L's. Second year just wasn't as interesting.

All popular culture has been increasingly slanted towards adolescents, probably because of the amount of money and time this group has to spend on entertainment. Actually a great deal is slanted towards pre-high-school, but that cohort will want to see things about the next group up. Thus pop music is mostly for pre-teens/young teens and movies are based on comic books, fantasy novels and video games.

College students themselves have their time occupied with other things, if not with studying then with other campus activities.

And there's the Dobe, the best college series ever.

Marty:

The Dobe?!? google fails me.

Dobie Gillis :). A show about the two sides of me, Dobie and Maynard G Krebs.

Neither is on now, so it doesn't refute your point, but both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Veronica Mars had characters who start out in high school and age in real time, so later the characters are in college. But offhand, those are the only shows of this type that I ever watched, so I'll take your word for it that they were the exception. (In a way they were the same show--Veronica Mars lacked superhuman strength, but she had almost superhuman detective ability, sort of a female high school Sherlock, but with a normal personality.)

"The Big Bang Theory" is more about postdocs, people in their mid to late 20's, I think.

I thought I was the Maynard G. Krebs side of you.

Tuesday Weld always liked you.

Robinson J Peepers to your Harvey Weskit.

Mr. Ed to your Wilbur Post.

Your old friend Calhoun, who learned you bout the protons, the neutrons, and the molecules.

Warren Beatty debuted in "Dobie Gillis".

I think he also debuted, so to speak, in Tuesday Weld.

How can we forget "Mrs. G. Goes to College"?

With Cedric Hardwicke, of all people.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mrs._G._Goes_to_College

In most of the family-oriented situation series in the "permanent wave", the oldest child would hang around for a couple of years and then disappear (I think their agents had bigger career moves in mind but most times they were never seen again) with the excuse that they were off to college. See My Three Sons, Father Knows Best, I think, and it seems to me David Nelson went off to college, though I think he lived at home with Ozzie and Harriet and Rick, without working by the way, well, maybe at the malt shop, under the table, Obamacare being what is it is, even then.

College was like a fatal disease in the soap opera genre: a good way to kill off a character.

Just like in my family. Off I went to college and the next time I saw them, my two younger brothers and two younger sisters had no idea who I was. All four of them had sprouted beards.

Does the College Bowl count?

"I thought I was the Maynard G. Krebs side of you."

Of course. And I have always suffered from wanting to "weld" on Tuesdays, is that a coincidence?

A teen drama is a type of drama series with a major focus on teenage characters. The genre was relatively non-existent for the first 45 years of television. It came into prominence in the early 1990s, especially with the popularity of the series Beverly Hills, 90210. After the show became a success, television writers and producers realized the potential for this new genre to reach out to a previously ignored demographic. In the past, most series with a focus on teenagers had been sitcoms, while adolescents in drama series were usually part of a larger ensemble that included adults and children.
[...]

Teen Drama

An interesting example of TV trying to be "universal" was Flashforward. The book characters were particle physicists, but they were mostly changed to FBI agents in the TV series. That would an acceptable way to make them more relatable - except that there are probably more particle physicists than FBI agents in America. The familiarity they're going for is having seen FBI agents on TV, not knowing one in real life.

Google says there are around 13,500 FBI special agents. Can't find a count of particle physicists in the U.S., but I wouldn't be surprised if FBI agents outnumbered them.

One of my favorite shows ever was about the lives of 1L's. Second year just wasn't as interesting.

I had a friend from undergrad who strenuously argued that law school (or at least the first year of it; never followed up to see if he retained this opinion) was an awful lot like high school...

Wikiquotes has the following line from Vonnegut

"High school is closer to the core of the American experience than anything else I can think of."

There is also a half remembered quote (the last bit is listed in Wikiquote as an unsourced attribution to Vonnegut) about how every school you go to, you find that they are controlled by the next school above it, until you get to university, where you discover that the world is run by all the people you went to high school with and then observing that "True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country."

Again, unsourced, but I tend to agree with the sentiment.

It came into prominence in the early 1990s, especially with the popularity of the series Beverly Hills, 90210.

Room 222? Fame? Or even Head of the Class or Happy Days? And when you think about how many programs focussed on or included teens, the drama part may be true, but the teen part isn't really supported by the link.

I feel this is because college students tend not to interact with adults in situations where they can't simply walk out, but teens have to interact with them and pretty much have to stick around. This allows writers to amp up the disagreement without someone wondering why one of the person's doesn't just get up and leave. I suppose this is why 1L works, cause you have folks who are basically in a similar situation. This is why almost all dramas need some sort of environment where people can't easily pick up and leave. While a university can resemble that, you have to build in all these things to make it clear that characters can't leave, they have to stay and resolve their problems. Thus, the emphasis on medicine and police. You think of something like House, where the team members are often stymied in trying to work outside, or a police procedural, where your skills aren't really going to transfer to another realm and you can drop some tension in there without having the audience say 'why is s/he hanging around?'

This is not to deny the general conservatism of people associated in programming. Being in a pretty conservative place myself, if you have some reasons, no matter how bogus or retread, to keep a current system in place, they will be employed such that every argument for keeping the old system will worth 2.753 new arguments, at least according to my calculations...

I would suspect a number of factors:

  • I suspect that advertisers are *much* more interested in teenagers with their preferences not yet fully formed than full adults.
  • Like those above have said, many people don't go to college, so it's something a lot of people can't relate to.
  • In high school you can have the big First Sexual Experience episode and then pretty much forget about sex. College people are all about the fucking.
  • And honestly, watching people study and get drunk at parties is boring. In high school, you have family interactions, subplots with parents, younger siblings, extracurricular activities.

And, really, when they got to college, Buffy started going downhill.

Room 222? Fame? Or even Head of the Class or Happy Days?

or 'welcome back kotter'.

"This is why almost all dramas need some sort of environment where people can't easily pick up and leave."

I foresee some future plot developments here which keep things topical.

You'll have much higher turnover in TV sitcom and drama casting, with characters leaving a show at the drop of a hat, at the first sign of trouble. Halfway through the first yelling match in the pilot a character will get up, sling his or her coat over their shoulder, tell somebody to take this job (or family) and shove it, and slam the door in everyone's faces as they leave without even an exit interview.

Why? Obamacare.

Group of students in Principle's Office: Mr Kotter quit this morning, put his chalk down half through the class when the class smart aleck started in on him, and walked out.

Principle: Just like that? Hold on, you mean your class has been unsupervised for the last 20 minutes?

Students: Yup. He was muttering something under his breath as he left that now that he wasn't shackled to this job and its mediocre healthcare plan, he could finally afford to purchase a private policy under Obamacare and was free, that's the word he used, to start on more entrepreneurial pursuits instead of trying to cram knowledge into pea brains.

Principle: He mutters in full sentences?

Students: Yeah, he ...

Principle: Never mind! I curse Obamacare! Freedom, he said, did he? Goddamned Socialism! And in a public school, no less.

Or ...

Remember Harry and Louise, the two anti-Hillary characters in the 1990s ad, played by two actors who didn't have health insurance in their real lives and who confessed in real-life interviews that they thought HillaryCare was a good idea, and that the only reason they took the as job was because they needed the money to purchase expensive private insurance?

Hollywood Producer: Harry, do you mind if I call you Harry, I want you and Louise here to do a new commercial, no auditions, for the RNC that badmouths Obamacare .. (here, the producer splays his hands and gazes at a thought-cloud hovering somewhere in the direction of the ceiling, imagining hordes of Muslims storming the WTC) socialist, Kenyan, Commie-lite, that sort of thing. Whaddaya say?

Harry and Louise: Uh ... thanks, but we've both purchased policies under Obamacare and are quite happy with it. Plus Louise here can now play Desdemona in the local production of Othello for very little pay, and I've quit the business and do carpentry and watch my kids, and before Obamacare I wouldn't have had the freedom, if you'll pardon the word, to do that.

Producer: Isn't Louise here a little old to play Desdemona?

Louise: Yes, and a little young for Medicare. Besides, this is a theater group that does charity productions for poorer seniors who live alone or in Medicaid nursing homes. I find it fulfilling. They like to see older actors playing these classic roles.

Producer: (clicks the intercom) Maryanne, get me the RNC on the blower! What's this country coming too with even struggling actors like you two calling your own shots! (throws his designer sunglasses across the room) Christ! At this rate, all we'll be casting is that Stalinist Bolshoi crap!

Maryann: Sorry, Mr. Limelight, but we don't have a blower any longer ..

Producer: What? Then, get Ted Cruz on the horn and ...

Maryanne: Whoopsies, no horn either. We don't have landlines anymore. Use your cellphone, your IPhone.

Producer: Since when don't we have landlines and who made THAT decision?

Maryanne: Search me. The market, I think. I just work here.

Producer: Well, if there's no blower or horn any longer to call important people on at my command, why DO you have a job here? What do you do out there all day?

Maryanne: Hey, listen, boss, you do what you have to do. I can always get Obamacare and open a bed and breakfast. It's all, so, I don't know .... Jeffersonian ... now that Obamacare permits all individuals their yeoman pursuits.

Producer: This town worked better when Ayn Rand wrote the screenplays. (Angrily removes his Hawaiian short, slams it to the floor, and jumps up and down on it)

Louise: Maybe you could get Ann Coulter and Louie Gohmert for the parts.

Producer (head in hands) They can't act! Plus, their agents' salary demands are excessive.

Louise: Well, there you go.


LJ:

This allows writers to amp up the disagreement without someone wondering why one of the person's doesn't just get up and leave.

I think that's a good point. I think its an example of a broader problem with college: the very things that make college a transformative, interesting experience make it hard to televise.

-Larger pool of people that you interact with. A high school has a few hundred students in most cases? Maybe a thousand at the outside? Unless you are at a small liberal arts college, you are talking thousands or tens of thousands.

-Rotating interactions. Not only are there more people to interact with, the group tends to change. Different classes have different students, different professors, TAs, and those change quarter to quarter or semester to semester. People join clubs, frats, etc.

That's a lot of competent actors you need to hire in order to have a "college experience" of meeting new people.

-Touched on above, but I'd reiterate the universality issue. Not only is *college* not universal, but its not even universal *among those that went to college*.

State school? Ivy league? Small liberal arts? Community college than transfer? Those will give you profoundly different experiences and that's just the beginning. If you're at a state school, what's the "college experience"?

Poetry readings at a coffee shop? Getting a band together? Late nights at the library? Playing ultimate on the quad? Frat parties?

Major in communications? Medieval studies? Engineering?

College has a lot of big events for a lot of people, but I would say they are not broadly shared.

But in high school: Everybody goes to prom (or doesn't go, but its still a big event). Everybody learns to drive. A lot of people have crushes, make out, and either have sex or wish they were having sex. They have problems with bullies, parents don't understand them, etc etc

All great fodder for TV, but I can't think of similar experiences in college that everybody can at least relate to. Turning 21, maybe? Doing your own laundry and cooking?

-18-22 is a period of transition. Which, as DocSci noted, is great fodder for drama and comedy. But, that's really hard for TV. Or at least uncommon.

It's hard to do character growth in 22 min/or 44 min segment.

On top of that, most sitcoms have a fairly set formula of interactions between the characters. There might be a goofy one, a straight man, an authority figure, and they will interact in a number of predictable ways that are easy to write. If all of these characters are changing, that formula breaks down pretty rapidly. Worse case, its not a good show anymore, best case its not the SAME show anymore, and your viewers might move on.

-Finally, even if you have a good plan about who the characters are and who they are going to be, it has to be dosed out in entertaining 22 min/44 min blocks. Which can be hard. If the entertaining bit is watching the characters develop, that means they are probably changing rapidly. You want to keep people coming back, so you have to keep hitting exciting milestones.

And if you keep hitting exciting milestones, at some point your characters will be who they are going to be, and they aren't changing anymore.

It's the problem Battlestar Galactica (the recent one) ran into. At some point, you are either making progress, or you are not. If you're making progress, you are going to reach Earth and the series is over. If you're not making progress, the show isn't entertaining. If you're making progress but never actually getting anywhere, it gets frustrating for the audience.

A similar problem is the "will they/won't they" trope of so many shows. You have romantic tension between the lead roles. If that never progresses, it becomes frustrating for the audience. If it does, you've lost a major component of your formula.

It's why college works for movies. The transition can happen. People love and learn, etc etc and the characters can develop but than its over. It doesn't have to keep going indefinitely.

High school dramas are popular because almost everyone had a crappy time in high school, so there's a lot of yearning for an idealized, fantasy version of the experience where everyone is attractive and mature and getting laid all the time. Shows that portray high school realistically, like "Freaks and Geeks," tend to get low ratings.

I've often wondered why there aren't more college shows. Probably too much sex, drugs, and fun for television.

Shaenon:

Heh, I like the juxtaposition of

yearning for an idealized, fantasy version of the experience where everyone is attractive and mature and getting laid all the time
and
Probably too much sex, drugs, and fun for television.

I think there is a healthy dose of fantasy when it comes to college as well. Perhaps not in your case, but I don't think it's always the amazing sex-filled fun spree (or alternatively the deeply fulfilling quest for learning) that is portrayed in popular media.

And, really, when they got to college, Buffy started going downhill.

Vampire Diaries, too. though i suspect they only went to college because the writers needed a way to shake things up - break up some friendships, bring in new people. when everyone was pretending to be in HS, it made sense that they would stay in one town, hang out with the same people, get excited about the big dance, etc..

same with Dawson's Creek.

high school provides a bottle: the structure is rigid (and enforced by law), the cast is limited, the expectations are simply-defined. characters can have their own goals and dreams and motivations, but they still have to go sit in that classroom every day, they can't escape the structure.

college doesn't really have that rigid structure, and a successful college kid isn't one who will have a series-full of interesting side adventures. a successful college kid is one who makes attending class and studying the focus of his/her life. boring.

a successful college kid is one who makes attending class and studying the focus of his/her life.

Now he tells me!

And I joked ... joked, I say ... about cutting poets' wages and making poems more economically efficient ....

http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2014/02/republicans-do-not-understand-what-it.html

Money quote:

“What the liberals and the Democrats want you to believe is, ‘Well, but you’ll have time to write poetry,’” Gowdy said. “Well, that’s great until you try and buy your grandkid a birthday present or you try and pay the heating bill.”

No matter how hard satirists try, the Republican Party keeps one step ahead, turning yesterday's satire into today's reality show.

You can't keep ahead of stupid in this country. You might be able to run alongside and stick your tongue in its ear, if you're lucky.

Rethug vermin give smug sermons.

Let history be the judge, once the presidential historians have agreed that Obama's failure to preserve the system of health-insurance serfdom was his downfall (and that W's Iraq War was a visionary plan, looking deep into the future, perhaps over the course of a full century, toward a peaceful, prosperous and democratized Middle East).

Just you wait.

Then again, historians may say that Bush II's worst mistake was including Iran in his "axis of evil" at a time when we were actually cooperating with Iran against the Taliban. And they'd probably have been happy to help against Hussein -- it's not like he was one of their national heroes after all. ;-)

(If Bush simply had to follow the cultural imparitive of having three members for the axis, he could have included Zimbabwe. And with a lot more justification.) Just you wait . . . .

Just you wait ... a few minutes more ..

.... and history will show that nuking and firebombing Obamacare was the second most necessary decision this country has made, after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and ex post facto moral quibbling about civilian fatalities is an exercise in political correctness, or political incorrectness, who can tell anymore, since Frank Luntz bukkakied the language.

Hey look, no waiting, here it is now:

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/phil-roe-obamacare-nuclear-bomb

Delivered faster than a big box of stupid on Amazon.com, and no shipping charges either.

What the liberals and the Democrats want you to believe is, ‘Well, but you’ll have time to write poetry'

The thing is, it's actually not that easy to write poetry. It's not a lack of time that keeps people from being poets, it's the fact that it's freaking hard work. There just aren't that many folks who are up for it.

And that's leaving the whole question of talent aside.

The folks who do it are the folks who are compelled to do it, and they generally do it in the middle of all of the other demands of life.

Not a lot of full-time poets out there.

I somehow doubt Gowdy could name a living American poet, never mind whether he's read one.

Also:

If folks want people to stay in the work force, all they need to do is make it worth their while.

Everyone wants labor to function on a market basis. All that decoupling health insurance from employment does is make the labor market more of a real market.

trying again, last one got lost...

What the liberals and the Democrats want you to believe is, ‘Well, but you’ll have time to write poetry'

Lack of time is not the reason people don't become poets. They don't become poets because it's really freaking hard work.

The people that do it are the people who are compelled to do it, and they generally do it in the middle of all of the other demands of life.

Not many full-time poets out there.

I suspect Gowdy could not name a single living American poet, never mind whether he's read any of their work.

Also:

If folks want people to stay in the work force, all they need do is make it worth their while.

Decoupling employment from health insurance coverage simply makes the labor market more of a real market.

Even success is failure these days.

Lots of people are aware of the work of contemporary American poets. It's just that the works of poetry that they are familiar with are the lyrics of popular songs.

It may not be great poetry. But then, most peotry is not great poetry. However it is definitely poetry which is widely disseminated throughout the American culture.

whatever. for the record, songwriting and poetry are not the same thing, but it's sort of beside the point.

if it floats your boat, change Gowdy's comment to "you'll have time to write songs" and carry on from there.

same point applies.

my life in the spam filter. trying again...

for the record, songwriting and poetry are not the same thing, but whatever. it's sort of beside the point.

if it floats your boat, change Gowdy's comment to "you'll have time to write songs" and carry on from there.

same point applies.

dagnabbit. third times the charm, maybe?

for the record, songwriting and poetry are not the same thing, but whatever. it's sort of beside the point.

if it floats your boat any better, change Gowdy's comment to "you'll have time to write songs" and carry on from there.

same point applies.

three on a tree
in the middle of the night
i got this steak on my head
because i got into a fist fight

Lots of people are aware of the work of contemporary American poets

For the record, no, I disagree, songwriting and poetry are different disciplines. But, whatever.

If you like, substitute "you'll have time to write songs" in Gowdy's comment, and the same thing applies.

spam filter hate hate hate hate hates me today.

Lots of people are aware of the work of contemporary American poets. It's just that the works of poetry that they are familiar with are the lyrics of popular songs.

Substitute "you'll have time to write songs" in Gowdy's statement, the same point applies.

Most poets must teach --
Tis a pre-existing condition
Then Republicans preach --
that's a double sedition.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XnP_8OBA7DU

Recite along:

Deaf Ted, Danoota, and Me

Thorg hilly grove and burly ive,
Big daleys grass and tree
We clobber ever gallup
Deaf Ted, Danoota, and me.

Never shall we partly stray,
Fast stirrup all we three
Fight the battle mighty sword
Deaf Ted, Danoota, and me.

With faithful frog beside us,
Big mighty club are we
The battle scab and frisky dyke
Deaf Ted, Danoota, and me.

We fith the baddy baddies,
For colour, race and cree
For Negro, Jew and Bernie
Deaf Ted, Danoota, and me.

Thorg Billy grown and Burnley ten,
And Aston Villa three
We clobber ever gallup
Deaf Ted, Danoota, and me.

So if you hear a wonderous sight,
Am blutter or at sea,
Rememer whom they mighty say
Deaf Ted, Danoota, and me -

(sometimes we bring our friend, Malcom.)

I like this very much, but I don't much agree with the last line. Larkin was a Tory.


This Be The Verse
By Philip Larkin
They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another’s throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don’t have any kids yourself.

Philip Larkin, “This Be the Verse” from Collected Poe

If folks want people to stay in the work force, all they need do is make it worth their while.

That is an un-American and alien concept unless you are a corporate big wig. They get the Galt option. It must be part of the compensation package.

When are they going to exercise it?

wj,

And most peyote is not great peyote either.

regards,


“I'm a moldy moldy man
I'm moldy thru and thru
I'm a moldy moldy man
You would not think it true
I'm moldy til my eyeballs
I'm moldy til my toe
I will not dance I shyballs
I'm such a humble Joe.”

― john lennon in his own write (not a spaniard in the works or sky writing by word of mouth

Little did I know
what I was about to unleash!
Sheesh!

My best explanation is they never found an adequate replacement for John Houseman.

Absent that, you're stuck with stuff like Fresh Meat....

ok, trying this from home....

Lots of people are aware of the work of contemporary American poets. It's just that the works of poetry that they are familiar with are the lyrics of popular songs.

fwiw, i'm not sure poetry and song-writing are the same discipline. but that's kind of an aside.

substitute "you'll have time to write songs" in Gowdy's comment, and the same point applies.

When are they going to exercise it?

as soon as (a) their options vest, or (b) it's leave or go to jail.

not too many examples of (b).

fwiw, i'm not sure poetry and song-writing are the same discipline. but that's kind of an aside.

Always controversial, especially for certain people, such as Bob Dylan. For example, see Dana Stevens and Francine Prose on Dylan as poet, and more on that from Anonymous, at the Poetry Foundation.

I don't have an answer because, to me, it all seems its own thing these days. But I like reading poetry on the page, but listening to Dylan (whereas many argue that listening to poetry aloud is best), so there are all kinds of experiences to be had. Giving it a try, one way or another, is worthwhile.

By the way, the great poet Maxine Kumin has died, aetat 88. She wrote:

Death, Etc.

[Sapient wrote and asked me to take this down, but (and I hope this is ok), you can read the poem at http://www.cstone.net/~poems/deathkum.htm ]

Always controversial, especially for certain people

No doubt, many forms overlap.

What I think about is this:

Sit and write a poem, or some poems.
Sit and write a song, or some songs.

And see if the experience of doing so is the same, or different.

Lots of things seem similar, or have things in common, but when you get down in the weeds with them the differences show up.

Note also that we're talking about popular song, which is a craft unto itself, and not a simple one, and not that much like other kinds of composition, musical or literary.

The limitations of the form are, themselves, a discipline.

Anyway, if folks decide to use the ACA as the way to chuck their day jobs and actually take up writing, or any productive creative effort, all I can say is fabulous.

If someone actually has the goods to pursue creative work, and can figure out a way to make it work, go and don't look back.

And by "goods" I don't mean talent, which is fairly common, I mean the ability to take on something really hard, and totally suck at it publicly and in fairly obviously ways, for years and years and years, and persist, without any guarantee that it will ever amount to anything, because it's what you feel you need to do.

That is what's required. Raw talent is nice, but may actually get in your way, because your first steps will be easy.

It's not for the faint of heart, but it's honest work, and worthwhile.

Gowdy can kiss my butt. Seriously, what an ass.

Thanks for the Kumin!

Reading poetry on the page really only works if you are audioizing** as you read. Because with out the sounds and the rhythms, it's just prose.

** That's probably not a word. But, since we have "visualizing," it ought to be.

Thanks for the Kumin!

Thank Kumin for the Kumin.

Because with out the sounds and the rhythms, it's just prose.

That's true.

But, or more likely in addition, the way the lines are laid out on the page is also part of the structure of the poem - if for no other reason than that, unlike in prose, they are chosen - and the dynamic of how the spoken word aligns (or not) with the written structure is part of how the poem works.

So, the 'on the page' part is not to be slighted, is my thought.

Thank Kumin for the Kumin.

Well said.

Interesting biography of the survivor of the Kumin couple.

More about Victor Kumin and the zeitgeist.

Yes, thank you, sapient.

That poem is wonderful but not a comfort. Truth never is. Such is poetry.

Getting old ain't for sissies -- Bette Davis.

May Kumin have healthcare insurance through the obamacare exchanges for death's eternity, just is case she lives again and her previous demise is considered a preexisting condition by Gowdy's brutal calculus.

That one poem is worth it.

Remarkably, Gowdy and his family live, subsidized by us, the thieves.

He couldn't think up a limerick, the putz.

I'd pay him to stay home, for productivity's sake.

There once was a putz name of Gowdy
who married a yutz who was rowdy
She gave him the shiv
in order to live
And to fun evermore she said howdy.

There once was a cracker named Gowdy
Bout poets he came on all doubty
He called them perverse
it could have been worse
Since Fort Sumter he's been so damned pouty.

Oh, and back to the subject of school. Sad. Just all around sad.

Count, do you submit anywhere besides here? Just wondering where to buy your books.

I'm guessing it's because your usual sitcom character is a moron who behaves badly, and K-12 is the last level of education where you can plausibly get away with that.

"Animal House."

That said: Tony Hendra once pointed out that "Animal House" inspired a wave of raunchy youth comedies that were mostly set in high school, not in college. So it may be an exception that proves the rule. I think Hendra speculated that misbehaving high-school students were inherently less subversive and threatening.

College does seem to be a more frequent setting in movies than in TV shows. There was an "Animal House" TV adaptation called "Delta House" and one or two imitators, but they were short-lived.

The weird wave of movie comedies about young science nerds in the mid-1980s was split about half and half between high school and college ("Revenge of the Nerds" was a college comedy, as was "Real Genius," set at a thinly disguised Caltech.)

Pixar just put out a peculiar one last year, the prequel "Monsters University" (definitely minor Pixar but not bad for all that).

The Danes once raised a giraffe
Fatted he was like a calf
But, he had the wrong genes
And no other means
So they fed him to cats for a laugh!

http://www.latimes.com/world/worldnow/la-fg-wn-denmark-zoo-kills-young-giraffe-20140210,0,2344285.story#axzz2szQ7g93n

She asked the bank for a loan
And life became a zen koan
They said she was dead
And she told them instead
Put it where the sun has not shone.

http://realestate.msn.com/blogs/listed-loans.aspx?post=55f1eb4b-f2f4-415a-b428-e574051bd14a

I wrote song parodies (about 150 of them) in the Lovecraftian mo(u)ld.
As far as poetry goes I always adhere to strict forms (e.g. about 80 sonnets). It has little to do with artistic urge but with the challenge. Currently I am going epic, the third time on the same plot (after using Fornyrðislag http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fornyr%C3%B0islag#Fornyr.C3.B0islag for the first and saga prose for the second now it is Nibelungen stanzas). Unfortunately neither English nor German is suitable for Dróttkvætt and my Icelandic is still too rudimentary for that, so I have to limit myself to the simpler forms)

þađ er Cþul(h)u
þursa drottnari
Skrímsli stjörnur
Skelfing hann er manna
Dauður en dreymandi
Sinn dagur mun koma
Rikir brjálædi
En birta er ekki


Back to the school theme:

A slight overreaction to a D-

Arise, arise, ye undead hordes of hell
I call, request, command you to my aid
To/Now swarm the Earth, all life obliterate
No mercy show and all resistance quell!

I got debased more than mere words can tell
They have incurred my never-ending hate
By their own words and acts they sealed their fate
I will not rest before their doom I spell

What do I care about Pythagoras?
That Euclid guy? Most def'nitely uncool
Force them on me and you will feel my wrath

You think you're safe? Your wake-up will be cruel
It will exceed the torture that is math
For this bad/low mark shall perish the whole school

First attempt to post seems to have failed. So a redo seems in order

I wrote song parodies (about 150 of them) in the Lovecraftian mo(u)ld.
As far as poetry goes I always adhere to strict forms (e.g. about 80 sonnets). It has little to do with artistic urge but with the challenge. Currently I am going epic, the third time on the same plot (after using Fornyrðislag http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fornyr%C3%B0islag#Fornyr.C3.B0islag for the first and saga prose for the second now it is Nibelungen stanzas). Unfortunately neither English nor German is suitable for Dróttkvætt and my Icelandic is still too rudimentary for that, so I have to limit myself to the simpler forms)

þađ er Cþul(h)u
þursa drottnari
Skrímsli stjörnur
Skelfing hann er manna
Dauður en dreymandi
Sinn dagur mun koma
Rikir brjálædi
En birta er ekki


Back to the school theme:

A slight overreaction to a D-

Arise, arise, ye undead hordes of hell
I call, request, command you to my aid
To/Now swarm the Earth, all life obliterate
No mercy show and all resistance quell!

I got debased more than mere words can tell
They have incurred my never-ending hate
By their own words and acts they sealed their fate
I will not rest before their doom I spell

What do I care about Pythagoras?
That Euclid guy? Most def'nitely uncool
Force them on me and you will feel my wrath

You think you're safe? Your wake-up will be cruel
It will exceed the torture that is math
For this bad/low mark shall perish the whole school

She asked could she read his first book
All he cared was she liked how he looked.
So he wrote it all down
And she said with a frown
He's shallow and not but a kook!

In the Liverpudlian version, "book" rhymes with "kook"

Some lyricists and songwriters come a lot closer to being poets than others. In some cases, lyrics are just an excuse for vocals.

I was in junior high when Van Halen was a new breakout band (and one of the big questions of the day was whether Eddie Van Halen or Randy Rhodes was the better guitar player).

David Lee Roth's lyrics were borderline nonsense, even if there was some amount of cleverness to them. Mainly, they were collections of words that sounded superficially cool and could be sung along with the music Eddie Van Halen had written. But they usually imparted little if any meaning, which, to me, is preferable to lyrics that attempt depth and fail.

I'd prefer that someone overtly write lyrics simply to give someone something to sing than endure the pain of some schlocky attempt at bearing one's soul.

At any rate, Roth is my chosen exemplar for the non-poet lyricist. And I'm thankful that he didn't try harder to be a poet, because that would have been dreadful.

I am a victim of the science age
A child of the storm. Whoa, yes
I can't remember when I was your age
For me! It says no more, no more
Nobody rules these streets at night but me
The Atomic Punk
Oh, yeah. Ah-ah!

Exactly. Panama and Ain't Talkin' 'bout Love are good for a laugh, too.

Holding a joint
While the neighbors decide
Why is a vegetable
Something to hide

sorry guys, but in my book nothing tops "only time will tell if we'll stand the test of time" for sheer dumbitude.

it doesn't have the effervescent bonehead swagger of roth's work, but the purity of the "duh!" factor - a ponderous nothingburger chasing it's own tail down a hole to nowhere - baby, it blows them all away.

all of that said, VH with Roth was a much more entertaining package.

also, mck wins the thread


But I would say that the problem with that Van Hagar lyric is the very attempt at some kind of depth. The stupidity of it is far more cringeworthy because Sammy's trying to be poetic, and failing badly.

Roth is a Good Time Charlie, and makes no bones about it. He's like a hybrid of a vaudeville comic and metal frontman.

Hagar's self-parody is completely unintentional.

precisely.

also, mck wins the thread.

Well, I never claimed that my lyrics had any depths, even those about the Deep Ones ;-)

The Deep One Girl
OT:The Star of the County Down
T:Cathal Mac Gervey
M:Traditional (before 1726)

1.
Near Innsmouth Town, the old and run-down
Beneath a darkened sky
Form the ocean rose a being so gross
And she croaked as she passed me by
She was indeed from her clawed, webbed feet
To the sheen of her scaly head
Such a loathsome view that I barely knew
Would I faint, scream or drop right dead

Refr.
From dark R'lyeh to Y'ha-nthlei
On the shore and below the swell
No thing I've seen with a skin so green
And so putrid a fishy smell

2.
As she shambled off, her smell made me cough
And I gazed with an insane grin
And I says, says I to a passer-by
"Who's that maid with the scaly skin?"
He smiled at me, and he says, says he
"That's the daughter of Old Man Marsh
She's a Deep One, yea, from Y'ha-nthlei
So don't be on/with her looks so harsh"

Refr.

3.
Never-blinking eyes and a look so vile
And a smell of piscine decay
Each time that she croaked on her pulsating throat
Rows of gill-slits she did display
Her shambling steps leave the pavement wet
Where she goes stays a slimy trail
A blasphemous mock, of amphibian stock
As if out of a Lovecraft tale

Refr.

4.
I researched a bit, and I really was hit
When I found my ancestral name
And to my despair, I discovered there
That from Innsmouth my granny came
So I'm a man out of Old Marsh's clan
And the girl must be my great-aunt
My dear uncle knew, he shot himself through
For his world was tuned upside down

Refr.

5.
Once it's Halloween, she'll be surely seen
So I'll wear all my grandma's gold
With my gill-slits wide and pale scaly hide
For her croak that is slimy cold
I won't kill me for my sanity
Though my face shows the Innsmouth Look
I will go down there, start mating with her
On/Choose the path that old Obed took

Refr.

also, mck wins the thread.

concur....

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