Bob Ross - The Old Home Place (Season 17 Episode 2)

This week’s episode is a mindfulness special, full of allegory and metaphor that Bob wants us to know about during these long, cold winter days. He begins rather overtly, with four baby blackbirds clinging to his chest, exactly where a human’s heart would be. Bob, of course, is an ethereal demigod, and convenes with the birds to understand that they are “hungry”. 

Bob is alluding to black birds as historical symbols of the dead, who are always hungry to carry souls to the afterlife. He says,“Let’s get these rascals off me here so we can get started; they have unbelievable little claws.”, prompting us to remove our own fears of death from our collective shirts, no matter how tightly it clings. We can’t get started while it’s hanging on there. 

As we expand on a sunset sky, Bob suggests a key piece of mental health advice that’s thinly veiled as a painting tip. 

“Just a touch of blue mixed with the crimson; … be very careful - that blue is so strong, it’ll eat up your whole world in a heartbeat." 

Yes, for all Bob’s talk of individual choices and the benefit of making mistakes, this is one rule he won’t take lightly. Just like the birds, the blues are hungry, and they can make simple things totally unrecognizable. 

It’s now quite apparent in the episode that Bob’s forgotten to remove the baby blackbirds from the studio, and they are chirping up a storm off-camera. Of course, Bob’s unearthly patience ignores this, but for us, it’s a constant reminder that death lurks in the void. We stare openly out the window, expecting some sort of Final Destination shit to happen, with the constant chirping of birds as our final soundtrack. 

Jumping back to the painting, we’ve now got some happy little light ‘zinging’ through the meadow that we had no idea Bob had started painting. Sensing that our attention was briefly on the end times, Bob pulls us closer and builds us back up for a Buddhist-inspired lesson on impermanence and living presently. 

Bob says, “This light’s effective only because there’s a small amount of it, like gold. Treasure these things, they’re your friends.”
In the middle of putting in a happy little pond in our meadow, Bob pauses to let us know of his own time he was blue - he was 9 years old, and an older boy tricked him into believing that a Wasp nest was a great place to get fishing bait. It isn’t. Bob thought that if he stood still, the wasps would think he was a tree. They didn’t. And as further example of Bob being non-human, he uses the weirdest metaphor I’ve ever heard, “They used my face like an aircraft carrier”.

A waste of taxpayer money? A presidential photo-op for a failed war? A prop on the set of a Village People music video? I don’t get this metaphor. Let’s say they used Bob’s face like a Music CD bargain bin at Wal-Mart - a place for Sting.
Bob quite literally spends the rest of the episode painting a single tree (named Clyde - yes, really) and a house on the edge of the pond.

But there’s one moment he reminisces on his days as a kid in Florida, thinking that the hills there were mountains, until he would see real one years later in Alaska. There might be a nice lesson in there about not knowing what we can conquer until we’re older, or maybe that our perspective can always change the size of the mountains we have to climb, but frankly those fucking birds are still chirping, and I’m going to go call my mom to tell her I love her.

4/5, good episode.

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