Integration Test Email #2
This template is used by integration tests only.
STICK TO EMAIL
SCENE: HBO corporate offices. An intern (no, really) sits at the foot and the mercy of the stately mahogany desk of Herbert Bosworth Oswaldington IV, president of television. Both parties are silent for what feels like hours, and the intern dare not speak first.
HERBERT: So we gave you a menial task for doing some email list cleanup…
HERBERT: …and you emailed our entire HBO Max customer base.
HERBERT: Accidentally, I have to assume?
INTERN: Well I wouldn’t do that on purpose, sir.
HERBERT: No, I suppose this isn’t a very good prank. “Integration Test Email #1. This template is used by integration tests only.”
INTERN: [looks down]
HERBERT: I’m told people have been having some fun with this “online,” as the kids say.
INTERN: Harmless fun, I hope, sir?
HERBERT: Harmless fun, yes yes. Jokes. Japes.
HERBERT: [looks out the 180th-story window of his office window] We’ve always been on the forefront of industry in this company. You know, when my great-grandfather, Herbert Sr., started this company in 1897, there was no such thing as email.
INTERN: Yessir. No email in 1897.
HERBERT: Back then, H.B.O. Incorporated was just like any other late-19th century petroleum company, with the simple dream of fueling the machines that would level the planet’s most fearsome mountains once and for all, so that we may plunder the riches that hid beneath them.
INTERN: Yes, that was mentioned in our orientation pamphlet.
HERBERT: As Herbert Sr. said, “you don’t conquer Mount Everest by climbing it…”
INTERN: “…you conquer Mount Everest by destroying it.” Yes. A great man he was.
HERBERT: Would we like some of the decisions we’ve made back? Of course. The atomic breakfast cereal of the 1950s taught us and the world a lot about pediatric nutritional health. Did you know that “Snap, Crackle and Pop” were taken from the sounds made by Geiger counters in our distribution warehouses?
INTERN: That certainly makes sense.
HERBERT: And we made a successful pivot to video in the 1980s. I’ll never forget the day my father invented Arli$$.
INTERN: Robert Wuhl, great actor.
HERBERT: The greatest our company’s ever seen. And now here we are talking about… [gestures dickheadedly] …emails.
INTERN: I apologize, sir.
HERBERT: Now now. If there’s one thing this company learned from Herbert Jr., it’s that apologies are for the weak. Apologies don’t make money, young man.
INTERN: So does that mean I’m fired?
HERBERT: Fired? Ha! Heavens no, of course not! You got this internship because your dad and I get loaded off expensive wine and gin in my backyard every other Saturday evening and talk about golf! You didn’t think you earned it, right? Ha, ha, ha!
INTERN: Ha, ha, ha!
HERBERT: Anyway. The only way to fix this — the HBO Way — is to pretend we did this on purpose. Like when an intern shredded the manuscripts for the last two seasons of Game of Thrones and had to write and shoot everything at the same time, on the fly.
INTERN: I never would have noticed.
HERBERT: No, nobody did. That’s why we’re so good at this. So let’s try to think of how we can spin this silly email of yours into a promo for one of our shows.
INTERN: Like Arli$$?
HERBERT: Tempting, I like your thinking, but current series. Something high-tech.
INTERN: What was that one Christopher Nolan movie? Tenet?
HERBERT: Ehhh I don’t know if that was high-tech or just bull mess.
INTERN: Maybe one of those murder-mystery miniseries things, like—
HERBERT: No, no, no! Think, lad! Something intentionally vague and inscrutable about integrating, and tests, like integrating technology into human…
The two lock eyes for a beat, their brains locking onto the same wavelength.
INTERN, HERBERT: [in unison] Westworld!
HERBERT: [picks up phone] Get me creative and marketing, I want an “integration test” story arc in the next season of Westworld. A full promotional slate! We’ll show these bastards yet that television still belongs to H.B.O.!
INTERN: [beams proudly] Best internship ever.
HERBERT: Oh and one more thing: a scene where an intern gets eaten by robot bears. Don’t worry about continuity. Bye now.
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STICK TO TELEVISION
Speaking of HBO, this week ushered in the Season 4 finale of In Treatment, which was rebooted with the Emmy-winning Uzo Aduba (most notably “Crazy Eyes” in Orange Is The New Black) playing Dr. Brooke Taylor, taking the helm from Gabriel Byrne* as the central therapist.
*Byrne never won any Emmys for playing a prisoner in an all-women’s correctional facility, so gotta say this is a massive upgrade.
The premise of each season of In Treatment remains the same, even as the characters change: a handful of patients, followed week-to-week as they seek answers and meaning in their personal life, with the therapist’s own humanity and struggles providing the underpinning of the series as a whole. So I’ve gathered anyway; this is the first season of the show I’ve actually watched. Sorry Gabriel.
Aduba will almost certainly be taking home some hardware for this role, a childless early-40s therapist in a posh LA home that provides the setting for every single scene of the season. It’s drama in its simplest, truest form: two people in a room, talking in conflict. But the simplicity of the format belies the strength and depth of the performances of everybody involved; Anthony Ramos* is magnetic as Eladio, a young caretaker struggling with sleeplessness and human connection, Quintessa Swindell is equally charming and frustrating as Laila, to the point that it feels almost too good to be acting, and John Benjamin Hickey sinks his teeth into the sleazy, slippery Colin in ways that’ll have you snarling at the screen.
Each patient — including Dr. Brooke herself — gets a six-week arc, though the show’s episodes are divided by week and not character. The good news is that each episode is only a half-hour, so it’s a palatable 12-hour season, and it goes by much quicker than 12 hours ought to feel.
Thematically, yeah, it’s heavy. It’s a show about therapy, people don’t go there to talk about golden retrievers and ice cream. Everyone — not just Dr. Brooke and the patients, but everyone who appears on screen — is both frustrated and frustrating, and somehow, through the conflict, points and progress get made. It’s a hell of a thing, talking and listening. And the show sure is worth watching.
*Ramos can also currently be seen as the lead in In The Heights, so now’s the time to buy stock in him and ride it to the moon; he’s a megastar in the making.
STICK TO DRUGS
Three cheers to public television travel guru Rick Steves for his recent* election as the Board Chair of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).
Steves is like the best possible cross of Fred Rogers and Steve Irwin: a genial, even-keeled old soul who enjoys taking his audience along on explorations and adventures. Even before this announcement, I’d have given the firmest of recommendations for his travel series in France, and honestly given the mission statement of this newsletter I’m a little embarrassed I never got around to mentioning him before today.
As readers know, marijuana is not my personal jam, but the indisputably harmful effect drug law enforcement has had on this country — and quite intentionally Black Americans in particular — rankles me like few issues today, and I desperately hope that you all find it unacceptable too. NORML does tremendous work, work which has so much further to go, and I hope that someday soon weed can be as normal a part of life for all Americans as it currently is for well-off white people like Rick and me.
*Okay fine, it happened in February, but in fairness he called himself the “newly elected Board Chair” on Thursday.
STICK TO AFFIRMATIONS
Thanks for joining me today. We’ll always end on a kind word.
It’s okay that you’re not perfect. Some days some of us aren’t even close. That’s all right. You’re enough — enough for yourself, enough for the rest of the world, enough to be loved — just by being you. You’ve made it this far by being yourself, and after the year we’ve had, doesn’t that lay to rest any doubt as to whether you’re good enough?
There’ll always be more to aspire to, and aspirations are a part of any healthy, growing outlook on life. But already, right now, there’s just one of you in the world, just as you are and as the forces of the universe intended you to be in this moment, and nothing and nobody else in the world can come close to replicating that.
You’re always amazing. Go be amazing.