19 June, 2011

Today is Father's Day. I get to that at the end.

I should definitely mention that I went to a SIFF documentary screening with Allen, who clearly knows what he's doing in terms of how to win my eternal loyalty. The topic of the doc: Kevin Clash, creator of Elmo from Sesame Street. And of course, we all know how I feel about that show, and puppets in general.

The documentary was remarkably similar in theme and scope to his recent-ish memoir, My Life as a Furry Red Monster (see my not-very-helpful review of that here). But there were some very cool video clips and a tour of the Muppet Studio that were amazing. Furthermore, Muppetry is such a visual medium that Kevin's life story ought to have been a documentary in the first place. I loved seeing him at the screening, and the movie was fun. I only cried a little bit.

I don't know what else to say about it, really. To be blunt, Clash seems like a bit of a workaholic--a well-meaning one, to be sure. On the other hand, is any genius NOT a workaholic, someone devoted to their creations at the expense of all else? Is that the price? And even if you don't think Elmo is that great a character, you have to admit that his status as a cultural phenomena is pretty incredible, and it didn't happen by accident. It was engineered in large part by Kevin Clash, and a lot of the projects related to puppeteering and development of Sesame Street in general can be attributed to Kevin. He's been at it for decades.

One of the more poignant moments was seeing Kevin Clash at his teenage daughter's birthday party. He was clearly giving everything he had to make her party incredibly memorable (a video of celebrities wishing her happy birthday, a cake that looked like it belonged at a Sesame Street-themed wedding) but I, at least (not sure if the viewer was meant to) could sense a detachment from father to child, greater than the usual distance between a teenage girl and her parents. Maybe I was reading too much into it.

On the other hand, if millions of children benefit at the expense of one visionary's family and friends, is that 100% horrible? Do we cluck our tongues at famous scientists who never see their families because they're too busy working on a cure for cancer? It's tricky, because some causes take an entire self, with nothing left.

I remember when my dad was working on a case that took him away from home whenever he wasn't at work. He would either be gone or in his office until 1 or 2 in the morning. The case never went anywhere, either, and it wasn't exactly noble--some sort of revenge on a former client that way way south. My point is, that was the last time I remember feeling somewhat sad that my dad wasn't around much (I was in high school). Ever since then, he's been around a lot, even if we don't want him to be. He hasn't always been the kind of dad you write blog posts about. But he has been around. I guess that's good?

I know this isn't a really platinum endorsement. Reminiscent of this Vonnegut quote, yes?

"If I die, and I hope I don't, I want my tombstone to read, "Someone. Sometime to sometime. He tried."

I going to go out on a limb and say it's better to have a dad who tried than none at all.




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