This is a guest post by Caleb J Ross (also known as Caleb Ross, to people who hate Js) as part of his Stranger Will Tour for Strange blog tour. He will be guest-posting beginning with the release of his novel Stranger Will in March 2011 to the release of his second novel, I Didn’t Mean to Be Kevin and novella, As a Machine and Parts, in November 2011. If you have connections to a lit blog of any type, professional journal or personal site, please contact him. To be a groupie and follow this tour, subscribe to the Caleb J Ross blog RSS feed. Follow him on Twitter: @calebjross.com. Friend him on Facebook: Facebook.com/rosscaleb
Does anyone else remember Steve Urkel’s personality changing machine? For those who don’t, here’s the ridiculously brilliant premise:
TV nerd poster child, Steve Urkel, is madly in love with neighbor girl named Laura. Despite, or perhaps because of, the strange absence of his own family (strange only to the audience; I don’t believe the show ever addressed the missing family directly) the neighbor family treated Steve as a pariah, often going out of their way to express hatred for the poor kid. Quite often, episode story-lines hinged on the family’s eventual, yet always temporary, acceptance of the outcasted child. But, when Steve steps into his personality changing machine, shifting from hunched geek to smooth chic (with an equally sexified name: Stefan Urquelle) the world suddenly makes time for him. Laura loves him. The family loves him. The simple lesson: looks are everything.
Does anyone else wonder why the government didn’t seize that machine immediately? No, you don’t. The machine integrated into the Family Matters world as a perfect figurative and literal storytelling device.
That’s the fiction I strive to write. Conceptually heavy, yet contextually believable. The entire show’s premise during those episodes depended on how this single awkward element transformed the entire Family Matters world. There is a magical realism feel to this situation, in that the weird element is weird only to the audience; the characters don’t consider anything strange at all (or they are willfully ignorant to the strangeness).