How “The Dick Van Dyke Show” gave me social anxiety disorder

I often avoid parties. The thought of going to a party gives me a touch of anxiety. Will people like me outside of work? Will I have anything other than Doctor Who to talk about? Will I know everyone there? What do I do if I don’t know everyone? How on earth will I hear everyone over the music? You know, absurd questions like these race through my head. Luckily, I bring the Mrs. and all is okay. At the very least, my significant other never leaves me alone to publicly humiliate myself, and when I do she covers nicely for me. The drive home usually consists of her telling me it’s not as bad as it felt at the time.

I was invited to two parties this past weekend. While work kept me away from both, I started wondering why I get so anxious at the very idea of going to parties.

As a kid, reruns of The Dick Van Dyke Show were appointment television for me. Nick At Night ran them all the time. Between the ages of 10 and 13, I though Dick Van Dyke was the funniest person on the face of the planet. It’s a credit to how well the show holds up that I was clueless as to how old the show was.

Dick Van Dyke played Rob Petrie, the head writer of The Alan Brady Show, a comedy hour style show that was based on Sid Caesar’s Show of Shows. We never really got to see the show within the show, which was fine by me. Rob and Laura were the real stars anyway.

They often would host the most amazing parties. With the usual furniture set cast aside, the living room floor because center stage for anyone who came to their event (mostly Rob’s co-workers). Obviously everyone would be drunk, but we (the viewing audience) never knew that. Rob would sing, Laura would dance, Buddy would play the cello (plus tell a few jokes) and Rose Marie would belt out a tune in her smoky voice. Everyone seemed to be a performer.

When Rob’s brother came by he was always encouraged to perform, but he would always get very nervous and go to bed (how anyone could sleep during these parties is a mystery). He would come out some time later and be the most wild guy on the living room floor. The character suffered from a kind of sleepwalking that caused him to call everyone “Buford” while he played his banjo and sang.

As I grew up, every sitcom that followed seemed to show every lead character needed to perform at the parties they went to. The worst was The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Mary Richards was cursed at having the worst parties in the history of her work place.

Problem is, that’s not real life. No one expects you to do anything at their party, except have a good time. So the more I try to figure out what you’re supposed to do at parties I’ve realized that I am not going to be called to the center stage for my vaudeville act. As a real life adult, the more I discover I need more small talk for life outside of work.

Do you want to talk about classic TV, Doctor Who, or comic books? Them I will be a hit at your place. I’m perfect for geek a party, that’s my crowd (always has been).

Honestly, I love that people are nice enough that they invite me. I don’t always make it, but I do make an effort.


Time to refresh

I’m coming back to this blog. To be honest, I miss the writing. I might be done with grad school, but I need to keep up on the writing. While I write at work every day, that writing is not the outlet I need. I’ve held a foolish romantic view of always wanting to be a writer. Well the truth is, it’s a ton of very hard work. The people who do it, and do it well, are known for their extremely hard work and dedication. Stephen King wrote in his book on writing that if you don’t commit to it every day for a certain amount of words, or time, then you don’t have what it takes to become a writer. He is right. I’ve have been asking myself a lot lately, what am I looking to achieve in this post-master’s degree world? It’s been almost a year since I finished grad school and I’m not sure what I should be doing with my degree. More on that later. For now I’m back and looking for a creative, and possibly a therapeutic, outlet. If anyone is still reading this blog, lucky you.

More to come…



Capstone Research Help

Hi everyone,

I am looking for feedback on the topic within my capstone project. I am designing a class to teach social media to people who are either entering or are in journalism. The class in the style of our classes in the ICM degree but on a website like ICM 501, 505, or 508.

Here is where I need the help. How do I narrow down what to teach? How basic do I start and how advanced should I get? Should I just focus on Facebook and Twitter and do I go as basic as how to set up an account? For the capstone I am only going to teach three modules. There is so much stuff to teach about social media it’s overwhelming trying to narrow it all down.

Also I know how I feel about online classes, but I need to know how other people feel too. As a part of the research, I am looking to hear from people in our degree about what they think works and does not work when taking an online class. Please be as honest as possible. We have all had various Professor’s in this degree. What have you found is the most effective teaching method and what are the type of things a professor does that makes you scream? Again looking for your honest take.

I need a wide audience to get the right feedback. Also if you chat with anyone else in the degree program please pass this on. I would love to hear from as many people as possible. You can either comment below or email me if you want to keep your thoughts private. I will not be sharing peoples opinions. I am simply conducting research so I can better approach teaching.

Thanks everyone. here is my email: brett.whitmarsh@quinnipiac.edu


Happy Un-Friend Day!

When I set out to plan something for my 30th birthday last month, I took to Facebook to see who would be able to make it. As I sat starring at my 255 friends, I realized I only want to see about ten or 20 of them.

Today is National Un-Friend Day for Facebook. Facebook does not sponsor it in anyway. The idea came from Jimmy Kimmel on his late night talk show. Jimmy suggests that we make these many connections on Facebook and they are hardly real connections. Are these people really your friends? As Jimmy says, would you give them your phone number? Would you be comfortable if they called you? Would you take their call? All good questions, his goal for today is to get you closer to the people who really are your friends and weed out the people you don’t even know.

I have sat on both sides of this topic. I have “un-friended” people and have been “un-friended.” Over the summer I found that had about ten “friends” on Facebook dropped me. For the most part it was random. I couldn’t speak to why they disconnected me from their lives.

Only one of the “friend’s” who dropped me made me stop and think. She was from my elementary school days. My school was very small. The class had about seven kids. In the first grade I met Meghann, who moved to my school from Canada. She sat in front of me and I terrorized her throughout most of the year. We became good friends. As I grew up, I decided in the third grade she would be the love of my life. A major decision for my third grade self. She was the only girl in the world for me. That puppy love crush lasted well into high school. While she made her feelings very clear over the years, moving away really cemented the fact that it would never happen for us.

Fast forward to 2008, I saw her pop up on Facebook. I decided to take the plunge and ask to be her friend, she accepted. We only really spoke once. Each exchanging polite comments on how well the other’s life was going. That was it. I followed her life as she posted updates and I assume she followed mine.

I was curious about how her life turned out. Facebook gives us that guilty pleasure. We get to be noisy about someone else’s life without asking them directly. If she and I met for the first time in 2010, we would have nothing to do with one another. We would not be friends today. She lives a very different life from me. I was curious, found out, and moved on.

When she “un-friended” me I was a little hurt. I thought; we’ve known each other since the first grade, why would you do that? Because I don’t really know her and she really doesn’t know me. We have no connection anymore. We are fading photographs of a different time. I would not have wanted her at my 30th birthday party and I know I would not have had a good time at hers. So I wish her well and focus on the friends that I do have a connection with.

I only friend people on Facebook I actually know. I need to have met you in real life to connect with you on Facebook. I often get requests from folks who I don’t know. To them I say, follow me on Twitter.


What’s Old is New Again

Today, within the great walls of NEWS CENTER, we found out that the old classic show “Bewitched” is going to start running at 3pm on our air. Yes, that Bewitched, the one with two Darrin Stephens and one nightmare of a mother-in law, will be re-run once again on WCSH6.

I am an utter geek when it comes to television. Classic TV sets me off on some of my geekiest rants. This year I turn 30-years old. When I was a little kid, before TVLand and Nick-at-Nite, I would look forward to the syndicated re-runs of some of our nations greatest TV classics.  Shows like The “The Dick Van D/ke Show,” “I Dream of Jeannie,” and yes “Bewitched.” Many of these shows would air just before school started, or were on when I got home. I hated leaving the house before each episode was finished. Sick days, and summer vacations, were filled with great marathons of the shows I have come to adore.

My love of producing TV came out of a passion for watching TV. Which is why I am so excited about Bewitched coming back. When I was five years old I had no idea what editing was. To me, the magic of the show was real. With the snap of a finger, or wrinkle of a nose, all kinds of wonder could be created. It’s more then nostalgia, it’s the building blocks for the direction I took in life.

Certainly some may scoff at the notion of a show from the late 60’s being re-run in 2010, and I respect where they are coming from. However, somewhere in Maine or New Hampshire there is going to be a little kid, like me, who has never seen Bewitched before. One afternoon they’ll be flipping around and land on our station. And maybe, just maybe, that same spark that lit inside of me, will trigger a future editor or producer and that’s good enough for me.

Through that spark comes an incredible sense of pride in working for WCSH. As I walk through the doors of the station each day, I know I am apart of something special. As silly as it may sound, that respect comes from an appreciation of our television history. While the formats and ideas might be different, the fabric of what makes TV great is found in both what has gone before and what is still to come.

You can catch Bewitched starting the week of September 13th at 3pm.