First Notes after the Film Crew Leaves

Sean McDonald was the handsomest man in Coos County for four hours today. By now, he’s back to being the handsomest man in Hillsborough County. He and Paul, the editor and videographer visited the Tiny White Box today for a segment on Channel 9 (WMUR) in Manchester’s “Chronicle” show, a magazine program that profiles New Hampshire notables, notorious and not-yet-indicted. They schlepped their lights and cameras and expected me to provide action, which I did, if action can be described as sitting in a chair telling stories, pontificating and yucking it up. In fact, when my days in the Tiny White Box finish, if I can find full-time paid work doing those three things I will be a happy man indeed.

I may write more about this later, and in a more essayish fashion, but here are my notes from the visit.

–They asked me to read a couple things, so I started with a serious piece about my friend, Joseph, who was a child character called Little Joe in Peyton Place, the story of messed up lives in a small New Hampshire town in the early 1960’s. Joseph and I were both born in the late 50’s to women unready for motherhood, the main difference in our lives being that I was placed for adoption at birth while Joseph had to wait until his sixth or seventh year to be removed by the state and placed in in orphanage. Last I knew, Joseph was homeless again, drinking and living behind the ice arena in Concord. The upshot of the piece was that each of us at birth was a coin tossed into the air. God, the universe, our mothers called us in the air, and I seem to have landed heads up. If the coin flip had gone differently, I might be still living the life of the living dead, and Joseph might be sitting down with a TV show to talk about himself.

–The second thing I read was a list of rejected book titles I found hilarious. Ex.: Negotiating Your Way into Heaven: Loopholes Edition; A Hole in One and a Garrote on the Other: Murdering Siamese Twins; Hypnosis and Property Values: Don’t Snap Your Fingers until the Sale is Final; Crimes You Didn’t Know You Could Commit; When a Spouse Dies and Leaves a Crime Scene: Cleaning in a Flash.

Again, I thought they were hilarious—to see them yourself, I think you’ll need to wait for the Criterion Edition of Chronicles.

–With three adult men, lights and camera inside, the Tiny White Box actually felt small. (Remind me of this if I write about wanting an all-male ménage-a-trois.) Luckily for poor Sam (is a dog), the bunkhouse was open for the day, the pellet stove was heating it, and my friend George was inside making fish chowder for lunch. Sam seemed please to avoid the crowds.

–On a more positive Sam (is a dog) note, Paul the cameraman and editor has a dog much like Sam and gave him lots of attention. Sam is even less photogenic than I, I’m afraid, although he and I did sashay up and down the road for Paul the talented editor to film. (I’m careful to point out how gifted, witty and kind Paul is, because a video editor has the power of God Almighty in making his subjects appear as gentle wise men (or angry lunatics). Paul is to be praised.

–It’s easy for me to forget that my current life choice is unusual. I mean, if you do anything for a while, it starts to seem normal, but I could tell my guests felt like they were inside a solitary cell.

–George’s fish chowder was delicious. I ate three bowls and still want more.

–The show will air within the next couple weeks, and I expect it will lead to an upsurge in readership here. Strange that TV has such power but print and radio don’t. I wish I liked television more.

–Although Sean is better looking than I, I’m funnier, unless he was holding back so as not to outshine me at everything.

–Paul, the insightful and creative editor, mentioned he’d gone to “Quaker Camp” as a kid, which led me to ask him if he’d been raised Quaker. “No,” he said. “Unitarian.” Imagine the theological skirmishes that must have led to as he went into enemy religious territory.

–For long time readers, yes, George did educate Sean on the benefits of ginseng and the details of its cultivation.

–If the shots of me making coffee go on air, know this was done at their request. I had no motivation other than the need to show me doing something. If this is entered in a cinema verite festival, demand your money back.

–Hermit vs. pastor was one of the themes, as was my prior life—running Liberty House, always filled with people and relationships—vs. my current life, where many days I see more deer than humans. I’ve gone from carnival/bowling alley to monastic existence.

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