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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Inside the O.R.

There's a great scene in the bail-bondsman/white-collar-criminal buddy movie "Midnight Run," starring Robert DeNiro and Charles Grodin. And, no, I'm not talking about the scene on the freight train where Grodin asks DeNiro if he's ever "had sex with an animal."

It's a scene where Grodin and DeNiro discuss the finer points of "living in denial." DeNiro is eating a piece of disgustingly greasy fried chicken while Grodin stares at him in deadpan disgust. Grodin goes on to elucidate all the various reasons why eating fried chicken isn't good for you.

"I'm aware of that," responds DeNiro.

"Oh, so you're aware of all your behavior and still you continue to do things that aren't good for you."

"That's right."

"Well that's living in denial," Grodin's slightly pedantic character accurately surmises, a smug smile spreading across his thin lips.

This, in very short order, is how I feel about my relationship with "The Today Show."

If you've been one of the happy, frequently returning customers of this blog you know that I struggle dearly with my "Today Show" habit, and that it is inextricably linked to early morning cuddle sessions with my wife before she has to depart for work. On Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, we wolf down breakfast so that we can watch "The Today Show" together on the sofa from 7:06-8:00. On Wednesdays and Fridays, our sessions are abbreviated, and we are able to watch until 7:31. All married couples get into routines. Some couples' routines revolve around night clubbing or seal clubbing, ours revolve around "The Today Show," antiquing, the occasional breakfast sandwich, Skip-Bo, and Victorian operetta.

I suppose I'm living in denial where my relationship with "The Today Show" is concerned. I know very well that it isn't good for me, and yet I continue my behavior in spite of this knowledge. And, really, it isn't good for me. It isn't good for anyone, frankly.

Why could it possibly be good for anyone to have to sit through a meticulous recounting of the tawdry details of the death of some perpetually intoxicated lesbian heiress who wasn't talented or attractive in any way? Why do I, in suburban Pennsylvania need to know about some kidnapped and I'm sure by now very dead toddler in Arkansas or whatever?

And why do I have to see some 81-year-old motherfucker getting his head cracked open by neurosurgeons in an operating room at Mt. Siani Hospital?

At eight-o-fucking-clock in the morning?

I mean, if you think that's good for you in any way, shape, or form, then you're living in denial, too.

It's all part of the series "Inside the O.R." with Dr. Nancy Snyderman, who just happens to be my least favorite post-menopausal woman in the world after-- whodathunkit-- Meredith Vieira! Dr. Snyderman is the Today Show's "Chief Medical Editor" though I'm not quite sure exactly what it is that she "edits" or what exactly she is "Chief" of. If she's the Chief Medical Editor, does that then infer that there are "Assistant-Chief Editors" or "Deputy-Chief Editors" working under her? Her title kind of reminds me of our supervisors at the private ambulance company I used to work for. They made more money than us, and wore white shirts instead of blue shirts, which was fine, but they had little gold ranking bars on their collars-- like in the military. But this wasn't the military, and they had no official rank. So I used to bust my supervisor's balls by calling him "Lieutenant" or, if I was feeling very frisky, "Two Bars."

I wonder if interns at "The Today Show" call Dr. Snyderman "Chief" and then snicker under their breath.

Anyway, Snyderman has a cloying, sychophantic presentation on the air, an obnoxious, self-important, authoratative air. She speaks and doles out opinions that are presented as categoric on everything, from Swine Flu to breast cancer, but, according to her bio, she's an Ear-Nose-and-Throat Specialist. After graduating medical school, she joined the surgery staff at the University of Arkansas and "began her broadcasting career shortly after."

How the hell does that happen?

In any event, this new series, "Inside the O.R." shines the spotlight on the media-hungry Snyderman (she appears on "The Today Show," "NBC Nightly News," "Dateline NBC," MSNBC, and hosts "Dr. Nancy" weekdays at noon, which leaves me to wonder how she's "on staff at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital and how tricky it must be to get an appointment in between all her various television and internet engagements) as she turns the camera on poor sick people having operations all week.

Monday was the cardiac surgery "for a person whose heart isn't working very well."

Tuesday was the C-section "for a baby who is just too big to come out the normal way."

Today? Fucking brain surgery, "and the subject is AWAKE!"

I can't wait till tomorrow. Maybe they'll be amputating some poverty-stricken diabetic's gangrene-ridden foot! Too bad they haven't yet invented Smellovision! Perhaps Friday, for the grand finale, they can surgically close Dr. Nancy Snyderman's mouth.

I'd watch that.

I'm sorry, but surgery is, I don't know, kind of private. I realize that, in this modern society, there is very little that is private anymore-- with celebrities and amateurs alike making weird sex tapes of themselves and people being able to see through your windows using Google Earth, but can't we just let these poor motherfuckers get operated on in private? Yeah, I know, they signed the release forms so they're just as guilty as "The Today Show" people who shoved the papers, and probably the money, in front of them, but what does this say about us as a society?

And, let's face it, the only reason the cameras are in there in the first place is because, secretly, it's the hope of "The Today Show" executives that something will go wrong-- because, let's face it, that's good fucking television. That's why auto races are filmed, for Christ's sake-- every drunk, trailer-trash person who cares enough to watch it is already there, peeing on someone else's R.V. The rest of us just want to see wreckage. The only reason film crews gathered to film the first take-off of the Airbus A380 in 2007 is because they were all hoping it would crash, and that they would have that beautiful bean footage.

Because, basically, we're all perverts who can't wait to see someone flatline in a New York O.R. while we're eating our "Smart Start" just before work.

And, even though we know it's true, that's living in denial.


  1. Midnight Run = One of my favorite movies of all time... "Marvin, look out!!"

  2. And who could forget Yaphet Kotto's immortal portrayal of the FBI's most long-suffering Special Agent, Alonzo Mosley?

  3. This post is structured like an episode of The Simpsons--you think it's going to be about one thing, then it turns out that it's about this other thing, it ends on a very satisfyingly humorous note, and then I start quoting it to my friends. (To clarify, I'm talking about a 90s era Simpsons episode.)

  4. I've never seen midnight run... Does De Niro's character actually have sex with an animal??

    You never told us his reply to that and frankly, Im afraid to google it.

  5. Oh, Matt-- rent it. Do people still "rent" movies?

  6. This is why I no longer watch the news. Once Paris Hilton was famous I figured all credible news coverage ended.

  7. At least you're not watching the infamous fourth hour, when things really start to get weird...


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