Okay, so clearly I still have a lot to learn about maintaining a weblog. “Maintaining” being the key word here. Sorry for the lapse.

I’m savoring my re-entry into domestic life after months on the road. Yet while it’s absolutely lovely to be home, transitions can be tricky. In recent years, I’ve gotten better at navigation, so it's not so bad now, but I remember back when I worked in film and television it was horrible.

It would start when the job was over, and you went home, exhausted but excited, dreaming of all the wonderful things you would do, now that your time was your own again…and maybe for a day or two you did enjoy your freedom before real life started creeping in, and there were bills to pay, and phone calls to answer, and the mail had piled up, and everyone was slightly annoyed at you for being away…and suddenly you found yourself kind of missing the suspended reality that passes for life on the film set. It's a lot simpler. You have a single mission. Few choices. A set schedule. Regular meals. A rigid hierarchy that governs relationships. The rules are clear. As long as you do your utmost, that's all that is required.

People in film and television like to compare working on a film to being in the military, which seems a bit self-indulgent, but hey. You can learn a lot about what it feels like to work on a film shoot by looking at “crisis” dramas like ER, or West Wing, or any of the cop or rescue shows. While they pretend to be about hospitals or law enforcement, they’re really about the lives of the crew members who are writing and filming the scripts.

The formula is always the same: a crew (team, squad, battalion) of people works together in a constant state of emergency, punctuated by a series of spiking crises, which they will succeed in resolving if they pull together and work as a team. These crises are followed by brief lulls, during which the heroes go home and makes a mess of their personal lives, but this is okay because the next crisis is always imminent and can be counted on to rescue them from all the banal, annoying, tedious complexity of domestic life maintenance.

Occasionally something nice will happen in their personal lives, which is okay, too, because it doesn’t have to last. The next crisis is always imminent and can be counted on rescue them from all the banal, annoying, tedious complexity...etc., etc..

It’s a narrative formula that sells. It pretty much describes what it’s like to work on a film or TV set, which in turn explains why TV producers are so addicted to it: They like making shows about themselves. It also pretty much describes why war, or any violent crisis, is such a successful political/mythic alternative to the annoying, tedious complexity of maintaining domestic stability.