07 October 2014


Early Edition: Horoscopes

"Knowing the headlines is one thing . . . Knowing the future is another."

Gary Hobson doesn't have to read his horoscope for today: all the headlines of tomorrow give him a good idea of how his day is going to turn out. That is, assuming that nobody messes with the stars. =P And this is where the first twist of the episode comes in . . .

There's more than one way to save a toddler

Gary changes terrible headlines into not-so-awful headlines every day. Can he really complain when someone else finds another way to do the exact same thing? LOL! I love him for being so uptight, though. For he's right that The Paper, which is the fifth main cast member (the fourth being The Cat), isn't something to be taken lightly. Everyone who disagrees with him has his opinion fastened the hard way. I refer to his best friend Chuck, who never stops trying to get the stock news . . . and to his new girlfriend Meredith, who is as hungry for a good scoop as the next reporter.

To Meredith's credit as a "woman of the 90s," she does try to keep her professional life and her love life separate. But whether this sort of compartmentalisation is actually an impossible ideal or curiosity just happens to be her fatal flaw (Oh, NOW I get why the show has a cat!), she glances at some of tomorrow's headlines and finds that she simply can't unsee them.

Did anyone else get the sense that The Paper doesn't like Meredith? That it's personal between them? I mean, it jerks her around in this episode, flat out lies to her, and tries to end her . . . like some jealous romantic rival or something--and no, I'm not projecting. =P There's a scene in which Gary explains to his level-headed friend Marissa that he can't be with a woman who gets between him and The Paper and Marissa points out that it's The Paper which is getting between him and a woman. (Hmmmm!) Of course, Marissa has no idea what stunts The Paper has been pulling. But she does find it amusing--as should we--that Gary should be clinging to The Paper as an excuse when he has been wanting to get rid of it for months.

The first time we met Meredith, I admitted that it's kind of cute that the man who knows tomorrow's news would end up falling for the woman who needs today's scoops. And when I stop turning everything into a Horror movie (Sorry, but it's October), I see that The Paper remains a moral challenge no matter who reads it--but because Chuck and Meredith's temptations are different from Gary's, they get different tests.

Now, notice that we're assuming Gary is passing his tests with flying colours. He saves lives all over the city and hasn't once tried to use The Paper for illicit gain--and he certainly looks heroic doing it! But what if he's actually swinging and missing as badly as his friends? What if his own temptation is to neglect family for the sake of strangers, to the point that he he never has a family at all? In that case, he's failing big time, isn't he?

Your Turn to Be the Hero: If you had to choose between saving countless innocent lives and marrying the love of your life, which would you pick?


Sheila said...

I suppose I would have to save the lives. After all, if I were given that opportunity, wouldn't you say I was chosen for it -- that I had a different vocation? Not everyone is called to get married.

On the other hand, perhaps I could have saved countless innocent lives if I'd gone into medicine or something. There's just no way of knowing, and I never felt any call to go in that direction. That's why they talk about discerning your vocation -- there's always going to be some tug in the direction of a life you could lead, a good you could do, the lives you could change or save.

Oddly I never felt called to marriage until my spiritual director told me it was my vocation -- and in retrospect she only did that to get me off her back about the consecrated life! But perhaps that too was just part of the way my life was "supposed" to go? And by the time I was questioning that person's credibility, I was madly in love ... and of course, that too is a kind of message.

Is this different from saying "whatever happens is what was supposed to happen" or "whatever you choose is the right thing"?

I think it is different, but it would be hard to prove it.

Enbrethiliel said...


Now that you mention it, we could say that the first season of Early Edition is all about discerning a vocation!

Since I'm trying not to give away everything about these episodes, I didn't mention something else that Gary mysteriously received early on: an illustrated history book with a photo of someone else whose cat is nearly identical to the one which comes with The Paper. When Gary looks up the old man, he learns that the latter always carried around a copy of the Chicago Sun Times . . . and that he died the day before The Paper started coming to Gary! Further research leads him to a message that was presumably written by the old man: "Live your life." He doesn't quite know what to make of it, either, but it comes up again and again. Marissa brings it up in this episode when she encourages him to choose Meredith over The Paper.

One of the books that I'm reading now is Abandonment to Divine Providence by Jean-Pierre Caussade. Its message, in a nutshell, is that all we need to worry about is "the sacrament of the present moment"--the work that God has given us to do right now. It's an interesting foil to the modern idea of a vocation, which gets us discerning more ambitiously and thinking about whole careers. And I confess that it appeals to me because I've spent years trying to discern the bigger plan of my life and coming up empty. I think I'm called to marriage--but if that were truly the case, why is it so hard for me to get married? And if I'm actually called to the single life, why do I long for marriage and children so much? It is actually a relief to stop thinking about the future and worrying that I'm only throwing more obstacles in my own way. If I focus on the present moment, I won't be so crazy.

And maybe that's another reason why I like Gary: thanks to The Paper, he is stuck living life one day at a time. He knows that he should also be thinking about the future--if only because he can't remain unemployed and keep paying for a hotel room forever--but he has the perfect reason to keep his focus on the present and to trust that when he finally gets to the future, he'll see that he took the right path. (Or so we hope!)

I don't know if "Whatever happens is what was supposed to happen," but I would argue with the idea that "Whatever you choose is the right path." We can choose the wrong paths and unleash some terrible consequences on ourselves and others. But something having been done, we can at least say that it was allowed by God in order that He might bring good out of it. And if He allowed it, then it's hubris on our part to say that it wasn't "supposed" to happen.

Brandon said...

In fairness to The Paper, Meredith did lie to it first.

It's interesting to think of a Horror version of Early Edition -- it would require a different kind of lead than Gary, but it has a great deal of monkey's paw potential.

Enbrethiliel said...



I hadn't been too easy with Meredith's bait-and-switch at the beginning--but unlike Gary, who just thinks that she shouldn't have done it, I thought that she shouldn't have been able to do it. Apparently, The Paper is more vulnerable to this sort of thing than my unified theory of time travel allows . . . and it's no happier about it than I am! LOL!