Something pretty

For part of each week, I work as a visual researcher for a TV show. This means I am responsible for finding moving pictures to support a story; if it’s a piece about ducks, I find pictures of ducks. It’s not rocket science, usually.

But today I got a request that has left me scratching my head. “Find me something pretty,” the email said in an offhand sort of way. “Just anything that you remember as pretty, to use as a background.”

Are you sure this isn't boring?

This put me in mind of requests I used to get when I was working at a local specialty bookstore after I finished university. One customer was on her way to the cottage and loudly demanded to see all the books we had that were under an inch thick. (She measured the spines – I am not making this up.) Another wanted “that book with the green cover that was on that show,” while yet other discerning entities would simply ask for whatever we stocked that wasn’t “boring.”

Not long after that, I briefly lived with a roommate who fancied herself to be rather a deep, intellectual sort — she would stand at the kitchen window hoping someone would take note of her pensive look, and then say to her victim, “I wonder how a tree decides to grow,” or something equally fatuous. One night we were at a loss as to what to make for dinner and, putting on her Ponderous Intellectual look again, she thoughtfully suggested, “Let’s have something savoury.” I hit her across the forehead with a frying pan full of paella; that seemed to do the trick.

Anyway, as I sat there this morning, reminiscing and nursing my eye twitch, the sound of my head rhythmically hitting the keyboard eventually drew the attention of our director, John. He peered over my shoulder at the culprit email and then burst out laughing himself. Afterwards, when we had finished wiping our tears away, we spent a jolly few minutes coming up with things that might fit the bill, “pretty” being of course a very subjective thing, entirely dependent upon the (jaded) eye of the beholder.

Very pretty. (Ribbit.)

Among the candidates:

  • smokestacks
  • frog skin
  • fresh asphalt glittering in the sun
  • algal bloom
  • the scales on the underbelly of a gaboon viper
  • rust
  • wet concrete
  • red blood cells
  • lichen
  • bread mould

Should be an interesting show. Watch for it — it’s on some night this week, on that really great network.

Smiter out.


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