October 24, 2020

Greta Life

Greta Life

Greta LifeSeven o’clock is a tough TV hour for me these days. I’m working 12-hour days at my pre-publishing stardom gig, and it’s very taxing. I’m currently what’s called a “software test lead” and I have to configure Windows operating systems in ten different languages and then test software on each one of them. It’s called localization testing and after I set up a computer as if it’s on someone’s desk in Istanbul or Stockholm or Bonn or Madrid, and then run about 100 or so tests on each language as if I’m Yusuf or Maake or Georg or Vicente*, and pretend that I understand their mother tongue better than I badly understand English.

*(I’m not stereotyping; those are the fake users I have set up on each respective localized computer, so that when someone looks at a screen capture of one of my localized software tests, they aren’t seeing “Mike Hunt” or “Heywood Jablome” on a Portuguese patient list)

Make no mistake: I’m as far from multi-lingual as you can get. I took four years of Spanish between high school and college and I know “nosotros” means “we” (I think) and I can pronounce all of the popular south-of-the-border beers and most of their signature dishes that you can find in stateside Mexican restaurants. Other than that, it’s a good day when I can remember to keep the “ll” silent in “paella.”

So this isn’t an easy job. If you’ve ever tried to set up network permissions on an American version of MS Vista Ultimate Aero, try doing it in Turkish and tell me it doesn’t make your skull hurt and your eyes throb.

So, most days when I come home after a 40-minute commute listening to progressive radio and trying to figure out how a moratorium on a 17-cent gas tax that’s going to be the ruin of our transporation infrastructure even as I curse the U.S. Grant note that I’m laying down at the pump every week is going to be a good idea, my brain is more or less the consistency of Cream of Wheat. But I made a commitment to this blog, so it’s a tall order sitting down at my coffee table laptop when I come home and trying to make some sense of what’s going on in politics and the road that is going to lead us to the next Vice President and President of the United States.

God bless Keith Olbermann for bringing intelligence and sanity back to the mainstream networks, and I love watching him every night, but when I get home now the TV is usually just rolling off of my 6:00 PM taping of Hannity and Colmes. I don’t know why I always TiVo it, because I never watch it. So given the diminished state of my brain and of my patience for the more pressing and anger-inducing issues of our day, I have a habit these days of leaving the TV on Greta Van Susteren. I always feel dirty, like I’ve just shopped at Wal-Mart.

She’s been on FOX News a million years but every time I turn it on it feels like I’m watching the O.J. trial again, where she made her bones in the first place. This is an apparently intelligent woman who long since sold her soul in the interests of a bigger payday for People magazine-style expotainment.

I ran across Greta’s show many times over the last several years, but the thing that made me curious over time was that she was so desperately trying to recapture the urgency and 24/7 passion of the O.J. Simpson trial. Everytime I tuned in over several months, I was treated to one case and one case only: Natalie Holloway. Yes, this is a tragedy for her parents, but how many other teenagers have been murdered around this country during the lifecycle of the Natalie Holloway case? I can’t count on the hands of all my neighbors within a three-block radius the number of times I’ve turned on the television only to see another story on Joran van der Sloot and Deepak and Satish Kalpoe. They might not even be guilty but I know their name better than my state legislator.

It wouldn’t be so bad if this weren’t so shamelessly serialized. Every installment is another titillating episode. There are a few thousand parents all over the country who are feeling the same pain as the Holloways, but on Greta she’s the only teenager in the world who was ever the victim of foul play. Of course, the argument goes that Natalie and her case speak for all those who don’t have a voice. Well, nice try. Find the little bastards who killed her, if they are little (okay, I’ll weigh in: Joran did it), and string them up. Then let’s move on to solving the next missing girl case, even if she’s brown and poor and not so telegenic.

The nets have been coming up empty lately apparently. The best she could do tonight was a blonde Olympic skater who was slipped a ruffee. Before they got to the attempted date rape, Greta had to offer, “I’ve never spoken to someone who’s a double-gold medal winner before, so that’s exciting for me!” But back to your drugging.

It’s like this every night, interrupted now and again by an ostensibly sexist Joran van der Sloot third-grade art project just uncovered. You have to wonder after a point if the Botox is having an effect. That gets talked about a lot, and it is striking when you see that face and wonder what one ping with a tuning fork would do to any dogs in proximity. And with every sentence leeching out of the corner of her mouth, she looks like she has the best makeup person a stroke victim has ever had. I’m more inclined to think she got her last shot during an unfortunate sneer, and in the 21st century botulinium toxin version of Mom’s “don’t make a face or it might stay that way,” Greta is getting a very contemporary comeuppence.

Jesus, I spent ninety minutes in front of FOX News writing this entry. I think I’ll happily go back to my Turkish operating systems tomorrow morning. At least they’re more defensible in their relative incomprehensibility than a lazy and unhealthy hour of Greta Van Susteren. I don’t understand why I land on the shit that I do sometimes. Morbid curiosity, I suppose. That’s the best I can come up with.