Penny for Your Thoughts

I received an email yesterday from ZipCar asking if I would consider being interviewed for a segment on the CBS news about car ownership, gas prices and the alternatives to automobile ownership for city residents. It seemed customized to me (referencing my being a new member and how that’s the type of person they’re seeking to interview), but it still could have been something all Zipcar members received. Who knows.

Either way, I didn’t respond. I think people opting to be interviewed on the news come off as idiots. I mean, they always say the obvious thing (if they did something illegal/wrong they deny it, if somebody else did something illegal/wrong they say how shocked they were to hear that their neighbor/son/best friend/priest did such a thing, if there was a natural disaster they talk about how they never thought such a thing could happen).

Besides, I fell victim to such a thing many years ago. The day of Rose Kennedy’s funeral I was asked to be interviewed for the local news. Stupidly, I agreed. I said something stupid about how sad it was that she passed away and that she was a great woman (as if I knew her). Since that day, I’ve avoided the media like the plague. I think I even mentioned before that I get nervous every time I buy grapes because it seems that a few times each year a local family will buy grapes only to find a black widow spider. For some reason, this is major news and the housewife always explains what happened to the reporter: “I opened the bag and started rinsing the grapes when I saw this little black and red thing with legs. I couldn’t believe what it was.”

ugh. It’s the same interview every time…just with a different talking head.

OK – enough of that.

I was watching a syndicated episode of Good Times last night and it was the one where we first get introduced to Penny (see how this ties in to my blog title today, clever, huh?…you thought it was all about the interview). Anyway, Penny was played by a young Janet Jackson. After the uber-sexy James Evans quit the show (by being killed off), the show kind of lost it’s luster, IMO. It went from being a realistic portrayal of life in the projects to lame slapstick. But then they tried getting real again by incorporated little Penny….a girl abused by her mother.

I remember as a kid being scared to death by this episode…but it seemed much more tame this time around. You may (or may not) recall that in this episode Penny gets in trouble and the mother unplugs an iron and beats/burns her.

I could have sworn that they showed some actual abuse…but that’s not the case now that I’ve seen it again after two decades. The abuse is simply implied, and then you see the bruises and a bandage covering the burn. Interesting. It’s funny how your memories can morph over the years.

I mean, this clearly explains how I used to find shows like Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley and Three’s Company so funny…when now they just make me cringe.



  1. Comment by Dean on April 28, 2006 12:10 pm

    i used to love watching good times. maybe that’s because i grew up in lynn.

  2. Comment by keith on May 2, 2006 1:18 am

    That episode, and the one where JJ gets married to a junkie, seriously scarred my sheltered suburban upbringing. I’m still totally terrified by my memory of Penny’s mother going to her with the iron.

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