Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Everybody Sweats Raymond

OMG, three posts in a row? Given my usual output this recent jag has now reached the historic and unbreakable equivalent level of Cal Ripkin's consecutive games streak or Joe Diaggio's 56 game hitting streak. Soak it in because I'm pretty sure I won't be able to sustain this degree of prolificness for too long. Besides, it isn't my style to be consistent. Infrequent posting makes my sparse entries all the more riveting, and why would I want to water down a good deal like that?

So earlier today I realized I had finally hit that point in my vacation where I had forgotten everything I had learned the previous semester (and then some). I had officially "decompressed" from the previous semester (unfortunately school starts up again next week and it'll take me a good month or so to "recompress"). I felt compelled to do what I did last summer when I had hit my lazy stride which was start running on my basement treadmill.

Now to all those people who say running is so great and find it some sort of activity to relax, clear the mind, and relieve depression: you're fucked in the head! Running, and by extension any sort of physical exercise, is a terrible experience that I find to be the equivalent of assigning yourself the chore of torturing yourself. Those people that use exercise as a recreational activity to me are deeply disturbed sadomasochists. The only pleasures I find from it are when the period of exercise is finally over and the vague notion that I get that I've done something productive for myself thus excusing from any further obligations of productivity. In that capacity it gives me pleasure, much like the unbelievable pleasure one receives when they move their hand from a burning iron or after passing a kidney stone.

Since I've established that running is a generally unpleasant experience for me I try not to associate it with things that I like. I wouldn't listen to songs that I enjoyed while running since I would run the risk of tainting them forever with unhappy memories. To this day I still can't hear Nirvana's In Utero without some part of my brain going back to all the SAT prep courses I drove to with it in my car CD player or hear Radiohead's OK Computer and not remember the many times I played it while driving home at midnight from a long shift at Blockbuster. It's basically like aversion therapy (or the Ludovico technique to give it a pop culture anchor). Since I don't really have a collection of music that I am ambivalent towards or hate, music is usually out of the question, lest I ruin my fond associations with "Crank That (Soulja Boy)".

I still need to keep my mind occupied so I usaually turn to the tiny TV that's set up across from the treadmill. The timing of television works out pretty well to, two back to back sitcoms or a hour long drama and you've gotten yourself some decent time on the machine and caught a whole show. Alas, television shows also run to risk negative association so I steer clear of shows that I would watch, but the beauty of television is that 95% is mediocre to unwatchable giving me plenty of options. Now, the perfect program to watch is something that is not particularly good but not bad enough so as to make running in silence a far better option. "Just Shoot Me"? Too much of a guilty pleasure. "Yes, Dear"? Too unbearable. "George Lopez Show"? Too much George Lopez! The perfect show is what took a title, a picture, and four and a half rambling paragraphs to get to: "Everybody Loves Raymond".

For me personally "Raymond" is the best show for running. I've tried numerous times over the years to appreciate this show, to see what millions of viewers and Emmy voters saw that I couldn't. Unfortunately I have yet to find it. On the surface I should like the show, I've always been a fan of the dying art of the old school three camera, laugh track, standard sitcom, in spite of modern television and the chagrin of most of my TV watching friends. I can see the merit in the fact that "Raymond" doesn't need fancy single camera shots or a bunch of outrageous actions; you can have half an episode of them just cracking punchlines in a living room. I can see the merit in how they essentially ignore the children and never flip to them for a cheap laugh. I appreciate the fact that it's in Queens and Ray writes for Newsday. However when it comes to the laughs, it's just not there for me.

For me I think it goes to the main characters, they're for the most part irritating and sort of boring. Every character seems to be a robot with their set of fixed responses, the only thing that changes is the situation. Raymond will always be sort of an inconsiderate jerk to everyone, Debra will complain about Raymond and have tensions with Marie who'll be equally tense to Debra and love Raymond. Meanwhile Frank's a jerk/slob and Ray's brother Robert gets no respect from anyone. This remains but newer events arise leading them to tackle it with their set character actions. Frankly the show should be about Robert (Brad Garrett has a valid stake on all those Supporting Actor Emmys) and portray Ray (who is by far the least interesting character on the show) as more of a golden child villain who gets all the attention, I think it'd be somewhat more interesting this way.

All these flaws add up to me feeling a little disappointed every time I flip to TBS expecting a Seinfeld rerun. However, it's not so bad as to the point I would change the channel (especially if I had nothing to do and knew that an actual Seinfeld was just over this sand dune). All in all though, it's the so comfortably middle of the road that it'll do the job; kind of like the worn out clothes you put on to do some really dirty work that you don't mind getting ruined. And with TBS and the WB playing it about a dozen times a day between them my running routine is pretty flexible.


  1. man-going from a twilight zone marathon to a raymond viewing session? thats like taking ecstasy, then, immediately after you've come down, putting your testicles in a vice and cranking it till you hear a 'pop'.

  2. There are worse shows, Raymond's a tolerable one nut in the vice.