Nothing compares to springtime flu

Everybody’s been looking forward to spring and it has arrived in all its glory. The plants are leafing out, giving fits to people with pollen and grass allergies. A mild winter failed to freeze out many of the bugs. So here they come, wiggling and squirming in echelons and platoons, making again the argument that in the competition for eventual survival, their species will probably triumph over ours.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised to greet this new kindness of nature with a nasty case of flu which so far has flattened me for a week, with little sign of abating. I expected to once again escape, as I have for many a year, by getting my annual flu shot. Evidently the particular strain that hit me wasn’t in the three-strain vaccine combination.

So here I am, faced with a head that feels like an overbaked tomato and a body which occasionally feels like it has been immersed in ice water. The worst thing about flu is the absolute disappearance of energy.

It isn’t only the symptoms that deplete me in a flu attack, however. Probably the most depressing factor is that one is forced to watch hours of television, and network television today must have sunk to unrivaled depths of boredom and banality.

In the first place, I have to rule out most sitcoms since the obnoxious laugh tracks utterly destroy my interest in them. I was shocked to learn lately that laugh-track-ism has become an electronic specialty. It is even used in shows with supposedly real laughter, such as the Jay Leno show.

The apologia for this is that to pick up laughter from a big audience, you would have to string confusing networks of wires all over the hall. But I will say the Leno show keeps it in perspective, unlike a show like “Friends” where they push the laugh button after every line, no matter how inane the statement.

Then there is the news. It wasn’t until I became confined to my room all day that I realized how annoying it can become to have all-woman news teams. These incessant female voices screaming the news at me (and many of them do scream) plus all the irrelevant giggling, inside jokes and personal news about how these developments affect their children make the news more of a backfence chitchat session than a genuine news delivery.

One of my complaints about these news hens has to do mainly with the younger ones, who seems to be hanging on to remnants of the old valley girl accent. It sounds like they’re rolling a marble under their tongue while carefully avoiding pronouncing their consonants. This doesn’t apply to all woman news readers. A veteran like Shirley Hancock always pronounces her words clearly and distinctly and that husband-and-wife team on KATU together delivers a nice crisp production.

I’m not arguing for all-male news teams. Please, just fewer of these hour-long hen cackles, especially on weekends and around the noon hour on weekdays.It was my misfortune to get sick the week of the NBA playoffs. I’m not opposed to basketball playoffs. They can be very exciting. What gives me headaches is the incessant shrill commentary by the announcers.

Another sad thing about television one learns when watching hours of it, is that there is a certain school of television commercials which was considered the height of trendiness in the 1960s, finally proved to be a failure, but now is making an unfortunate comeback. This was the emphasis on “creativity” as opposed to any kind of marketing message.

The worst were a spate of commercials which nobody understood at all because they seemed to make no sense. This is the type which now seems to be making a comeback. One of the most obscure is a car with squeaky-voiced people singing “Polly Wolly Doodle” while drinking some kind of soda pop. It ends with a shot of a bottle of the pop which has some object suddenly flipped across the front so the pop brand becomes unidentifiable.

In another commercial, a man and his wife are driving in a car and they seem to be pursued by a bunch of knights in armor, obviously intent on mayhem. The wife says, don’t worry, we’ve got Capital One card. Sure enough, when she flashes the card at the steel-clad warriors, they back off.

Still another shows a man being overrun by a horde of barbarians of all stripes, visigoths, vikings, huns, you name it. However when they discover the man has a certain kind of insurance, they give up and turn away in disappointment.This covers the commercials where I could find some sense. There are some out there so “creative” I can’t connect them with anything resembling intelligence.