Television is a medium of entertainment which permits millions of people to listen to the same joke at the same time, and yet remain lonesome.
T. S. Eliot
The fact that I already live largely as a hermit, while beneficial in these times, allows me grater opportunity to pretend everything is normal does not escape me. One of the reasons that I have been blogging more, and checking in on social media daily, is to keep me from losing touch with the reality of the world. Normally I’d be more critical of people amusing themselves to death, but what else is there to do? It’s not as if we’re the ones fiddling away while Rome burns.
Last night, after I ran out of spoons, I tried to watch Shawn of the Dead. Throughout this pandemic Katie has been quoting the line “go to the Winchester, have a nice cold pint, and wait for all of this to blow over” whenever the topic of social distancing comes up. I keep thinking about the scene where the main character walks across the street to the store, and is so self-absorbed that he misses things like bloody handprints, dead bodies, and zombies shambling down the street.
It’s too on-the-nose for the current situation. We have photographic evidence from around the world, there are people on the front lines sharing their experiences, all of the evidence is readily available, and there are still people not taking precautions, thinking that this is all overblown, and treating it like it’s a joke.
As a respite from the real world, I’ve been watching a lot of professional wrestling. Except, well, the real world has intruded. With everything shut down, the WWE has been broadcasting from their training center in Florida, basically a fancy gym, with no audience. AEW has likewise been taping episodes of their show in empty arenas. To their credit, neither promotion is trying to pretend that this is normal. They’re simply doing their best to provide entertainment in a landscape where all other sporting events have been cancelled.
Where it’s gotten weird has been the run up to Wrestlemania, the biggest event in the wrestling. Normally it’s a huge spectacle in a packed stadium. It should have been cancelled, or least rescheduled. Nope. They’re filming it in the training center. Not exactly an enticing pay-per-view event. To make it even weirder, they’ve already filmed it, which is now causing some problems.
See, they filmed the TV episodes for the next few weeks first. Those build the feuds and promote what the card is for Wrestlemania. They shot the Wrestlmania matches on Wednesday and Thursday, and therein lies the rub: healthy wrestlers decided to stay quarantined and didn’t come in, came down sick, or showed up with fevers and were sent home. This forced the card to change.
We know this because announcements have been made. Roman Reigns, who made an historic comeback last year after overcoming leukemia, bowed out. He’s immunocompromised; his match should have been cancelled weeks ago for his own safety. Last night on Smackdown they were still touting his match for next Sunday. That wasn’t the only match affect. They’re still advertising matches that we know aren’t going to happen, because the people involved were quarantined during taping.
Nine Inch Nails released two new albums this week, and gave them away for free. Fortunately they’ve now added a direct link. When I grabbed them yesterday I went through their web store, and then had to wait several hours to receive an email link allowing me to download them. It was frustrating, but seriously, I’m not complaining about free music. I’ve been listening while writing, and it’s great ambient stuff.
Frankly, it’s been so quiet in and around my building that most of the time I’m not listening to anything. There’s very little activity in the hallways. No delivery trucks, cars coming to pick people up or drop them off, or groups of students laughing and walking together. I have no idea who might remain lonesome, still here in the building, and who might have gone off to visit family or to dig in elsewhere with friends or significant others.
And Yet Remain Lonesome
As I said, I’m trying to pretend everything is normal. I’m baking more bread, because flour keeps and sandwich loaves don’t. The pantry is stocked so we don’t have to go to the store for a month or more if we don’t have to. My focus is on writing and publishing, not worrying about whether I’ll have an audience, or if they’ll have any money to buy my books, in the coming weeks and months.