ugly American treasure hunters
Sunday, December 20 2020
Late this morning as Gretchen was leaving for the bookstore, I made myself a french press of real coffee so I could have my first caffeine since Thursday. I often have plans on Sundays to do procrastinated workplace work, but today was one of the few times I carried through on such plans. Powered by the caffeine buzz one can only have after two days of abstinence, I built out a new server enough to actually render an Angular frontend on.
This evening I made a simple spaghetti dinner with the only spaghetti in the house, a gluten-free quinoa & brown rice pasta that Gretchen likes for some reason. This kind of spaghetti needs to be pre-tossed with sauce, Gretchen told me, so she mixed it and my onions & mushrooms with some red sauce, and it ended up looking like, Gretchen thought, Chef Boyardee. "Chef Boyardee is what redwing blackbirds say," I replied. We ate it while watching Jeopardy!. Next, Gretchen wanted to watch something we would both enjoy, so she suggested a PBS show about treasure hunters trying to find a steel box supposedly buried somewhere in Upstate New York back in the 1930s by the mafia gangster Dutch Schultz. I was game; it had a bit a mystery for her and a bit of reality teevee for me. But what a disappointment! The show felt like it had been dumbed-down for the worst kind of reality teevee viewer, the kind who watch shows about hunting bigfoot and paranormal phenomena. Clearly PBS feels a need to race to the bottom pioneered by other networks, such as the Discovery and History Channels. (I'm surprised Fox News hasn't tried to out-retard those at their own game.) Three or four teams of treasure hunters explored in three different places, but all they managed to find was an old cast-iron still, a bricked-over tunnel (that they didn't open up) and a gold coin that looked like it had been planted by producers. Another jarring thing about the show was how unphotogenic most of the treasure hunters were. This is one of the results of watching so much scripted fiction: our eyes were so familiar with the look of actors that normal-looking people looked grotesque, at least in HD. Gretchen loves British programs, and British actors are famously plain-looking, but they're not nearly as hideous as American treasure hunters.
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