Sunday, August 09, 2009

An Open Letter to Jeff Beckman, Executive Director NET Public Television Nebraska

Dear Mr. Beckman,

My name is Danny and I'm four and a half. I don't type very well so Mama agreed to help me with this letter. Sometimes, Mama takes some creative liberties with my letters, but you seem like a pretty smart guy and I'm sure you'll be able to tell which voice is speaking. Actually Mr. Beckman, complaining. I have a complaint.

For the second time in as many weeks, I bounded out of bed bright of a Sunday morning to rouse Mama and Papa for my weekly episode of Thomas the Tank Engine. You see Mr. Beckman, that's my Hour of Power. Watching the Sunday episode of Thomas, or "TTTE" as I like to call him, sets the tone for my entire week. Imagine Mr. Beckman, my horror last week to discover in place of my beloved Thomas, James, Bertie and Sir Toppam Hat-a fat bald dude in a too-tight knit polo shirt blathering about our Dharma. Mama supposed it had something to do with the too-often fund raising campaigns you seem to undertake weekly at NET, and that the following week all would return to normal in the ever-so-lovely land of Sodor. Mr. Beckman, I must be honest in telling you I was more than a little cross at the subsequent return of the fat-bald self-help guy in the too-tight knit polo shirt. I might have uttered something wholly inappropriate such as:
"Oh, Poo!"
Mr. Beckman, I'm sure you know I don't mean Winnie.

I mean, Mr. Beckman, I don't even know what Dharma is. Moreover, I can't honestly say I care. Look, I'm open-minded Mr. Beckman. While it may not exactly be my box of juice, I try not to be too judgmental of the beliefs of others. Mama is an anthropologist, and I have it on good authority that you can find a whole lot more worthy of mockery than transcendental meditation, like I dunno, the whole Western religious cannon. So really Mr. Beckman, I'm not judging. OK, maybe I'm a little biased against the guy because of the whole polo shirt thing...I dunno, it seems so much cooler when Donovan does it, ya know? We watched that special on NET and really enjoyed it, though mostly Mama made me watch to see if a 70 year old Donovan could get up off the floor after half an hour of sitting cross-legged playing guitar (he did too! It was awesome. Mama bet me a chocolate chip cookie that he couldn't get up off the floor and then we were like, "Whoa, check it out man", and Mama gave me an extra cookie just because she was so impressed). Mr. Beckman, at least it was on at a reasonable hour. At seven AM on a Sunday, about all I'm intellectually capable of processing is, "It was another beautiful day on the Island of Sodor" and then they cue the theme song and by God, Mr. Beckman, by God I tell you, I'm no longer on an isolated dirt-farm in Saunders County Nebraska, but I'm riding along the rails with all my little train friends. Well, except for Devious Diesel, because he's a real bastard.

So, to quote Robert Frost from his wonderful poem, A Swinger of Birches":
"I was about to say before Truth broke in..."
Do you know that poem Mr. Beckman? It is about an old man wishing he were young again so he could swing on tree branches without dislocating a hip or something. Anyway, as Frost would say:
As I was about to say before Truth broke in...surely there must be another time to broadcast these pop-self-help people and their attentive minions-I mean, although the audience appeared to be filled with terribly earnest individuals with that somewhat glazed look people get when they are either completely enthralled, or completely befuddled (sort of like the look Mama gets when she tries reading Heidegger. Usually you can use the expression "Stupid Nazi rather offhandedly, but gosh, he really wasn't stupid was he? Have you ever tried reading that stuff? ) I doubt very much that it was being broadcast live at that hour. I should think even the earnest of followers would need a cup of coffee, or bancha tea, or Kool Aid before launching into the state of their Dharma. I'm sorry Mr. Beckman, the Kool Aid joke was intolerant, Mama says I have to apologise. Mama also says the crack about bancha tea was borderline, so sorry in advance for that one too. Coffee is still OK, I think.

Mr. Beckman, I don't want you to think your new programming has been completely wasted on me. I have a koan for you:

"What is the sound of one hand ripping up a check to the NET Foundation because they canceled Thomas the Tank Engine?"

In the words of that great Poet Robert Frost:

Wipe away my sorrows
Wipe away my fears
On the road to Shambala...

Lastly Mr. Beckman, I would like to remind you of the long and honoured tradition of responding to letters of complaint with monetary compensation. Why, my Mama once wrote an outraged letter of complaint to Hy-Vee because they put a ten pound bag of sugar atop he blackberries in a bag and do you know what they did Mr. Beckman? They sent Mama a gift card for fifty bucks. That's quite a few pints of blackberries Mr. Beckman. Another time, Mama wrote an outraged letter of complaint to Lauretizen Gardens and they refunded our membership dues and let us keep the membership-that's forty bucks Mr. Beckman. You can plant your own garden for forty bucks. Have you ever seen what forty bucks will get you at Earl May? So I guess what I'm saying is-Mr. Beckman, I'd like fifty bucks. That will buy a lot of Thomas episodes on VHS.

Thank You For Giving This Matter Your Immediate Attention

All Best,

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