November 5th, 2007

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Thoughts on the Writers' Strike

Those of us who enjoy television shows and movies as more than casual entertainments are probably all aware that the Writers Guild of America has gone on strike today. The last time this happened, in 1988, the strike lasted five months and killed a lot of TV shows. (I myself bemoaned the loss of Probe, a new show that broadcast perhaps five episodes before the strike brought it to an end.)

Almost anyone who knows me is aware of the fact that I am a strong supporter of unions. I remember my father going on strike in the 1970s when I was a little kid, and how my family went for much of a year not knowing how it would turn out. But Dad stuck to his principles that the writers and editors of the Newspaper Guild deserved more than management wanted to give them. My father died in the strike offices of the Newspaper Guild seventeen years ago last Friday; it's not hard to see that I come by my support of unions honestly.

So it should not come as a surprise to anyone that I support the writers in their strike and hope that they succeed in negotiating a new, fairer contract.

However...

It may be perverse of me to say this, but in some ways I wouldn't mind seeing a long, drawn-out, protracted strike. It would give me a chance to catch up on both my reading and older entertainment options. Nomi and I have been watching old episodes of Doctor Who, and we're still in the middle of the DVD set of the series "The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr." We missed Veronica Mars during its three years of broadcast and have been meaning to catch up with it (again, via DVDs). It has not escaped my notice that the simple fact we have old TV shows and movies on DVD as an option to fill the empty hours of programming buttresses the WGA's arguments that their members deserve a share of residuals for the new media.

Of course, in the end what I hope for will have little, if any, effect on the final outcome. But if it weren't for the strike, we wouldn't have paragraphs such as this one, from the New York Times article "Screenwriters Picket as Strike Begins" by David Carr and Michael Cieply, describing the picket line outside Rockefeller Center in New York City today:


All of the trappings of a union protest were there — signs, chanting workers, an inflatable rat, and a discarded bag of wrappers and cups from Dunkin Donuts. The rat was borrowed from Local 79, an AFL-CIO laborers’ union, and commuted in from Queens.


I just wish they had published a photo of the inflatable rat.
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Busy Weekend

This past weekend, I notice that friends of mine attended World Fantasy Convention or United Fan Con, or began their NaNoWriMo novels (which, in the end, I decided not to attempt), or kept busy in other ways. Nomi and I kept busy too.

It started on Friday, when we actually had some errands that we had to fit in around the workday. It meant that I came into work slightly later than usual in the morning, and then had to take a longer than usual lunch in the afternoon. Fortunately, I was still able to complete all the work I needed to finish.

Friday night, Nomi and I had an invitation for shabbat dinner at the home of maric23 and his wife. Since they live across the street from Kadimah, we made a point of going to the Friday night services there (we usually go elsewhere for Friday night). Dinner was delicious, as they made a variety of salads and a stuffed squash that was most filling. The only problem with the evening was that we stayed late talking, so Nomi and I got home late...

...and slept through the shabbat alarm on Saturday morning. We got to shul that morning just as the Torah reading ended, and I discovered to my chagrin that had I been present, I might have been able to get the Sheini aliyah since there were no Kohanim present.

We also learned that a good friend of ours had just given birth that morning to her fifth child, a baby boy. So after kiddush Nomi and I, along with our friends D. and S., headed over to the hospital to see the new baby and to visit the parents. It meant walking through more of the wind, cold, and rain of the remnants of Tropical Storm ABCDEFGHIJKMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ, but it was worth it. We got to see the new baby and wish the family mazel tov, and then we went home, where a hot lunch was waiting for us. (That was the only benefit of sleeping late; we were able to put lunch on the hot plate before leaving for shul.)

Saturday night we watched a lot of television in an effort to stave off the writer's strike. We also moved a lot of clocks back an hour, which led to our usual argument, because I like Daylight Saving Time and Nomi does not. If it were up to me, we'd be on Daylight Saving Time all year. And the designated hitter rule would be eliminated.

Sunday morning, for some reason I awoke at 6:30 am and was unable to get back to sleep. Which was just as well, because we had a busy day ahead of us. We finally removed the air conditioner from the living room window and then went on some morning errands, which included a trip to our newly renovated Stop & Shop for groceries. They did a fantastic job; the place is much larger and it feels roomier. They've also added what looks to be a permanent kosher foods aisle, and they had plenty of the groceries in stock that we usually buy.

Back at home, we packed up a few boxes and brought them to our storage unit, and then we went out to Rubin's to celebrate, where we ran into 530nm330hz and introverte and their kids. Food was eaten, and then we returned home to enjoy some more television before fading off to sleep.

The only sticky wicket was that my Casio WVA104HLA-8V Wave Ceptor Atomic Watch didn't get signal on Sunday morning, and so was still stuck in Daylight Saving Time for the day. (Hey, maybe it knows something...)