36 STROKECONNECTION Spring 2017
ere at Stroke Central my injured cerebrum is on
high alert because another season of “Game of
Thrones” will be upon us soon. My worry is not
that a fresh batch of graphic limb severings or
gratuitous breast barings will be unleashed on
the television landscape. No, my concern is trying to keep
track of the insane number of characters on the show
— at last count 150 main ones, not including direwolves
or White Walkers. It’s like a New Deal work program
for actors, employing more people in one episode than
currently live in the state of North Dakota. If non-brain-
injured viewers get confused, it’s
a cognitive nightmare for stroke
survivors. Who can be a couch potato
when you’re busy taking crib notes for
Hell, I can’t figure out who’s
who on Sesame Street, and their
characters come in colors. Aside
from being an outdoorsy bunch, all
the men on G.o. T. wear the same
hammered metal and leather kilt affair
accessorized with lots of Smokey-the-Bear pelts. The eunuchs prefer a
Depends variation on the theme. The
women are minimalists, with flimsy
garments that fall to the floor with
the slightest provocation. One cool
exception is Daenarys Targaryen, an unforgettable petite
blonde who happens to be the mother of three dragons
that are essentially fire breathing Boeing 747s with teeth.
Get in her way and you’ll end up a charcoal briquette —
or a serving of Purina Dragon Chow.
I sometimes wonder if modern TV shows are fast
becoming the 21st century equivalent of those lavish
Cecil B. DeMille productions. Life was different when the
medium was born. It was 1953. TV repairmen roamed
the land making house calls, people polished their sets
with furniture wax and shows had an average of four
Simple, uncomplicated and perfect for the brain injured.
It was SSTV: Stroke Survivor Television. You could skip
cognitive therapy for a week and still keep up with the
storyline. (However you’d need to double up on your psych
sessions to deal with the antenna-fiddling-rage so you
could actually see the show.)
Now let’s jump ahead 40 years to when I had my
stroke and “The Sopranos” became a hit. The number of
characters on that show was oobatz yet I remembered
them all — Bobby Bacala, Johnny Sack, Paulie Walnuts.
As Shakepeare said, their names were “pronounc’d to me
trippingly on the tongue.” Plus those
guys ended up whacking everyone
else on the show. The upside? Fewer
characters to deal with!
Then came the English series
set during that European whack-
fest called World War l. “Downton
Abbey,” for all of it’s proper Edwardian
etiquette, was stroke survivor hell.
Why? Well, Robert Crawley was also
Earl of Grantham, Lady Sybil Crawley
became Sybil Branson, Lady Edith
Crawley was really Edith Pelham
Marchioness of Hexham (whatever
that is) and … well, you get the idea.
Plus, it took me three seasons to even
understand what they were saying.
What lies ahead? Maybe driving DeLoreans with flux-
capacitors, more-elaborate TV productions streamed
directly into our brains, and “Game of Thrones” becomes
the new SSTV.
If that’s the case, stroke survivors of the future better
have damn good health insurance and the cognitive
therapy that goes with it. They’re going to need it.
Curb Life at the
Those Were The Days
A Unique Perspective on His Survival
by Stroke Survivor and Comedian John Kawie
DVDs of John’s award-winning one-man show, Brain
Freeze, are available at Amazon.com. For booking
information, contact John at firstname.lastname@example.org.
See a clip from John’s one-man show, Brain Freeze.