Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Bring on the Swiss Army Knife


Gosh, Tuesdays are long days.  I’m not sure why they seem that way even more than Thursdays, when my schedule is identical on the two days, but that is the way it seems.  Maybe it’s because when I get home on Thursday, the weekend has begun, so I don’t feel quite so weary.  Or maybe today it’s because I spent some time in the gym for the first time in forever.  Not much, just a few moderately paced miles on the treadmill, but at least it was something.  And, I did survive it, though I have to admit that I popped some Advil and Tylenol just to get through the rest of the evening of classes, and I reached for the Lortab pretty quickly after making it home.  Still, I felt like I accomplished something. 

But, having had the pain med onboard for a couple of hours now, my brain is slowing down pretty considerably, which has made a difference in what I’m going to chat about for tonight’s Tube Day Tuesday.  I had originally intended to talk a bit about Castle, a show I really enjoy, and tell you all about this week’s contribution to their annual tradition of a two-part cliffhanger episode during winter sweeps.  But, I don’t think I can think clearly enough to explain some of my disappointments in a show that I like so much, so I decided to stick to something a bit simpler.  But what could that be, when television offers so much to choose from?

Well, a quick Google search revealed that today (well, Feb. 26th, which is likely to be tomorrow by the time I post this thing) is the anniversary of the 100th episode of another program I liked quite a lot: MacGyver.  I’m not proud; that seems like as good a topic as any.

You know MacGyver, right?  The guy that runs around solving problems and saving the day like some sort of combination of James Bond and Bill Nye?  All in all, one cool dude.  Macgyver 2-27-13

MacGyver, which ended up airing a total of 139 episodes, starred Richard Dean Anderson as the title character.  In his job as a sort-of government agent-type, he traveled to all sorts of places, got into all sorts of trouble, and caught all sorts of bad guys.  And every week, he got out of some of that trouble by looking around wherever he happened to be, grabbing up whatever he could find, and turning those random items into . . . well, into whatever he happened to need at the moment.  He could do more with a roll of duct tape, a couple of paper clips, and a roll of duct tape than most people could with an entire hardware store.  Often, he created some sort of explosive, because we all know that things look cool when they blow up.   One of the things that’s always stuck with me, though, was the time he fixed a leaking radiator by frying an egg inside it.  Just in time to use the jeep to rush away from some crazy banana republic goons looking to kill him, of course.  Brian insists that wouldn’t really work, at least not long enough to escape through a jungle.  He says the egg would just keep heating until it shriveled up and no longer covered the holes, but I say you can’t argue with MacGyver.  Besides, maybe they took along an extra dozen for the escape.  Full disclosure, though: MythBusters put some of his tricks to the test, and they didn’t all pass, but if I was trapped in a room somewhere, he’s still the guy I’d want with me.

But, while some of MacGyver’s concoctions might’ve been questionable, the production lore insists that it was all pretty well founded in actual science.  And, that’s part of what made the show more than just your typical 80s action show.  Unlike most action heroes, MacGyver didn’t go in for all that macho, chest-beating stuff.  He didn’t believe in violence as a solution, and he didn’t carry a gun.  He preferred to think his way out of problems, negotiate solutions to problems, and only resort to physical force if absolutely necessary.  Even a lot of the explosives he concocted were only made to allow escape, or to slow down the aggressors, not to actually kill.  And, kind of like Star Trek got people interested in space and related scientific careers, MacGyver stirred up interest in physics and engineering type sciences.  There’s a lot to be said for being able to escape just about any situation with the stuff you’d find in a bathroom cabinet. 

And, like the very best of pop-culture television, MacGyver made its way into our every day conversations.  People no longer “jury rigged” something to get out of a mechanical fix, they “macgyvered” it.  And if you happened to find yourself with an odd assortment of items that seemed to have no relationship to each other whatsoever, it wouldn’t be uncommon (at least for the folks I know) to wonder what MacGyver could do with it all.   I’m pretty sure even my son can recognize those references, and he was still an infant when the show went off the air.  And, last year, I even told you my own story of the time my friend, Kim, and I had our own MacGyver moment—and a successful one, at that.  His name has become synonymous with being ingenious, quick thinking, and an all around clever person.   Like I said, pretty cool dude.

By the way, if you aren’t familiar with MacGyver, you can catch the episodes on NetFlix, and I think you’ll be glad you did.  And, here’s a couple of sequences to give you an idea of what the man could accomplish.
















Tube Day Tuesday digitalart









Image courtesy digitalart