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The Time Has Come: I'm Grounding Myself Until My Room Is Clean
October 26, 2009  | By David Bianculli
office-2009.jpgThe Best Bets will continue daily, but I'm taking a few days from writing a blog because I just can't stand it any more. Not the blogging -- the mess. My basement office, and everything in it, desperately needs some attention...office-old.jpg

When I launched TV WORTH WATCHING in November 2007, I posted a picture -- seen at left here -- of what my basement office looked like then. What you can't see in the photo are the 12 TV sets attached to various satellite and cable systems, or the shelves of old Movies Unlimited display cases filled with VHS and DVD offerings.

What you can see, though, is that it was a manageable environment.

No longer. Writing The Book saw to that.

The picture at the top of this blog is what my office looks like now. It's only the tip of a very messy iceberg -- for two years, every neat pile of research material turned into clumps of used references, and soon I couldn't even get to the desk without crab-walking, tiptoeing and sliding. Now the place looks like Pompeii after the volcano exploded, except instead of ash everywhere, there's just a mess.

My phone message banks are full, and haven't been emptied in months. My computer needs defragging, and so, I suspect, do I. And yet, at this moment, I'm still teaching full-time, and doing Fresh Air, and assembling video materials for use with publicity appearances for Dangerously Funny: The Uncensored Story of the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, which -- hint, hint -- comes out December 1.

So basically, I need to take a few days from blogging to focus on getting things back to normal. When I was writing the book, I called these rare but much-needed breaks "Smothers Days." I don't know what to call them now. Maybe you can tell me.

But keep coming back for the Best Bets, and smiling at the mess I have to clean up. Sigh...




Brink said:

How about "messpite" -- a respite to eliminate the mess.

Comment posted on October 26, 2009 11:20 AM

STH said:

Can we get an after-after picture of your cleanup in exchange for letting you off for a few days?

Comment posted on October 26, 2009 11:41 AM

Brink again said:

A-Litter-Ation; Laughtermath; Devostation (a link to your Akron days); Tall stacks; and two Princess Bride tie-ins: Cliffs (notes) of Insanity and Fire Swamp II, The Sequel.

Comment posted on October 26, 2009 11:54 AM

Diane Werts said:

So, Dave, I see you have already cleaned up the office halfway?


[Now that's just MEAN. Funny, but mean. -- David B.]

Comment posted on October 26, 2009 12:17 PM

Jan said:

Finally! A place that looks like mine! I'm hoping over Christmas vacation I can make some progress. Anyway, I empathize.

Comment posted on October 26, 2009 4:06 PM

Norm said:

The Smother lode; all-time best cellar; Denver-high Pyle; TV junk-it; a persistent trash; a refuse you can't offer

[Hey, I like a LOT of these. Need a job as a headline writer? It's unpaid, but boy, what perks. Free crap, wherever you can bend down and find it. -- David B.]

Comment posted on October 26, 2009 5:24 PM

Sally W. said:

Gosh, I know that feeling. My personal war against clutter, between piles of dvds and videotapes and papers - it just never ends.

Comment posted on October 26, 2009 11:03 PM

Eileen said:

Hi David,
Enjoy your break. Your office looks like the "extra room" in my apartment. So, you are not alone.

In these days of financial woe, I like to think of what you're doing as not a divestiture, but a dimesstiture...

Good luck. And, can you believe it's two years & counting on your blog? Have enjoyed every day of it. Many, many more years to come. And, thanks for all the enjoyable reading you've provided us with and the terrific guest critics.

All the best as you enter Year 3...

[Eileen, you're very sweet, and you presence and feedback have been a big part of this site. Thanks for having the low standards to stick with us all... -- David B.]

Comment posted on October 27, 2009 8:54 AM

Neil said:

With apologies to the Usual Gang of Idiots over at Mad Magazine, I propose labeling your clutter-fest David's "Ecch-tras".

How to reduce your piles of crap (uh, sorry, Ecch-tras)? Why not hold a garage sale for readers. By invitation only. Have your loyal TVVW-heads drop by one Saturday and pick two or three or eight pieces of dreck off the floor. Let them pay what they think the stuff is worth. Then you, DB, donate the proceeds to the charity (or public radio program) of your choice.

You get rid of stuff and junk, we (well, not me, I'm in San Francisco) go home with trinkets and fun collectibles, the Antiques Roadshow gets some additional fodder for the show they plan to tape in Cherry Hill sometime around 2018, and WHYY gets a few more bucks to pay the electric bill for the nightlights in Terry's studio. Win-win!

[All of this makes a frightening amount of sense. Except that, through layers on the floor I haven't broken through yet, who KNOWS what's down there? And should the Roadshow folks even be handling it? -- David B.]

Comment posted on October 27, 2009 12:17 PM

Len Feiner said:

I hope that you don't break the Algonquin Snowdome - if you can find it!! [The Algonquin snow globe is safely upstairs. But you'd better take care of your ST. ELSEWHERE snow globe... That's the thing I most covet, if you ever want to sell it. Or bequeath it. What was I thinking, getting Tom Fontana to give it to YOU??? Seriously, good to hear from you. Your quote on Pat Paulsen made my book, by the way... -- David B.]

Comment posted on October 27, 2009 1:53 PM

Hoppy said:

Wow and I thought there were only two Collyer brothers.

[Ouch. Et tu, Hoppy? -- David B.]

Comment posted on October 29, 2009 9:51 AM

Ron Alridge said:

David, David, David, you'll never do it. You are destined to dwell in the Land of Mess because, well, that's just who you are. Your challenge lies not in cleaning up the mess but in getting rid of the unjustified guilt with which is has afflicted you. I mean, what the hell is wrong with being buried beneath a mountain of unfinished projects, unreturned calls, unopened mail and partially eaten sardines? OK, maybe the sardines are a problem but the other stuff is just fine as is.
There is no need to tidy up your environment no matter how much your neighbors complain to city officials. Quite the contrary, your great mound of mess is a valuable resource to be maintained and treasured. It allows you to make lemondade out of dirty lemons found in the landfill. To be specific, your great pile of crap can allow you to "date" the various eras of your life the same way archaeologists date the eras of the civilizations they uncover--by carefully examining the layers in the order they are uncovered. Dig carefully through your Mess Mountain and you will quickly find yourself remembering, in reasonable order, the various stages and events of your diverse and frantic squirrel-like life. The popcorn wrappers from that night at Yankee Stadium, the partially filled pages from that Great American Novel you started and hurled against the wall, the old court summonses, the unpaid parking tickets, the newspaper pink slips, the hate letter written in crayon received from a deranged reader, the hate letter written in crayon that you intended for that reader but forgot to mail, the dart-riddled picture of an especially inept editor, the frantically chewed condom wrapper that never quite came open before you both passed out, a network bio of Eric Estrada, the old picture of Gary Deeb wearing horns, a silly mustache and an ABC Eyewitness News blazer. I'm telling you, the Eras of David are of powerful scientific, psychological and historical value. They should be explored properly, which is to say slowly and with a ready bottle of scotch. Just be sure to hide your shoelaces, ties, belts and sharp objects before beginning the journey. There are dark holes down there, too, ya know.
As for ridding yourself of pack-rat guilt, I promise that by the time you are halfway through your layers-of-life study, your guilt about being a messy guy will vanish like a 35 share in prime time. It will seem laughably trivial when weighed alongside the massive guilt of repeated failure, unending frustration and frequent episodes of getting caught in compromising situations at network press tours. Ah, the highs and the lows and the really really lows. Too bad that you never did enjoy the pleasures of the unreachable woman who finally got drunk enough to say, "Yeah, what the hell." The gnawed condom wrapper just might have come open if you hadn't been so drunk that your tongue kept covering your teeth, right?
I promise you that this crap-enabled trip down Memory Lane will snap you out of your guilt before you can say Supertrain and that you will be quickly inspired to abandon your mad, blog-interrupting plunge into neatness and order. You will emerge not only comfortable with your mountain of crap but damned proud that you built such a valuable treasure.
So dig in, Dave. Time's a'wastin'.

Comment posted on October 30, 2009 3:27 PM\

Greg Kibitz said:

Holy Crap Batman! Need I say more?

The best way to clean up a mess like that, is to move (as I was forced to do in Aug. '06). Then you really are forced to make the tough choices and in cases like that, if you are at all like me, then a good 50% of your hoard goes straight to the recyclers and/or the landfill/transfer station.

(My hoard of shame and compulsion was just as bad but more OCD organized and thus seemingly less burdensome, until suddenly I was forced to either move it/store it or toss it/recycle it and 50/50 seemed a good compromise of the two.)

Comment posted on November 3, 2009 4:53 PM
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