Saturday, January 30, 2010

Help me remember the name of an old show . . .

So this morning when Abra got up at 6:30 I was thinking about when I was a kid and how I would get up early to watch cartoons (she doesn't get up early to watch cartoons - she's only two - she pretty much just gets up early to let us know that she is still in charge of this place).

I started thinking back to all of my old favorites: Smurfs, Gummy Bears (bouncing here and there and everywhere), Snorks, Muppet Babies and on and on and on. Those were the days! I turned on the tv (last year) on a Saturday and was so unimpressed with todays Saturday morning options.

So what are the great Saturday morning cartoons that you remember? The old classics?

One last question for this special Saturday blog post - there was a show I watched as a kid on Saturday mornings, not a cartoon, and it came on early. I'm thinking 7:00am. It was about a kid who had a computer (very outlandish back in the early 80s) and he somehow made contact with a girl in a space ship that left earth sometime in the future. Not sure that all their astrophysics theory was spot on, but it was entertaining. Anyway, I mentioned this show to Maile once and she had no idea what I was talking about. Does anyone remember this show? Can anyone tell me what it was called? (I know, that's two questions. Be nice, it's a Saturday).

Thursday, January 28, 2010

To all you stay-at-home moms and dads out there . . .

Yesterday, Thursday, I got all angelic and decided to give my wife a way overdue, much deserved day off. She could do whatever she wanted, go wherever she wanted, as long as she could get back to occasionally feed Sam (he is still breastfeeding, and contrary to what Gaylord Faulker might think, you cannot milk anything with nipples).

And to all you stay-at-home folks out there, I have to say - it is much easier giving up television when you are not home all day. There were multiple times throughout the day when I thought to myself, I need some mindless activity just to get through this hour. Or, I need to have something that my children will stare at for a bit while I gather my wits. So to all of you stay-at-home's, first of all, you provide an invaluable service to the next generation - please take pride in what you do!

Second of all, feel free to watch television without guilt.

But there were also moments of strange peace during my stay-at-home day.

For instance, feeding Sam yoghurt. He has just started eating solids (actually, semi-solids), so his eating technique can be rather slow. He tends to close his mouth in the middle of the spoon, sending stuff everywhere. His hands always want to get involved, and in an unproductive way. He also still thinks that food is best taken in by sucking, so sometimes, instead of taking the spoon (no sporks in this house) into his mouth, he'll try to suck everything off the spoon.

Slow process.

But about halfway through this little jug of yoghurt (took about fifteen minutes), I realized: I have no where else to be right now, so why not be right here? I told Sam to take as long as he wanted, be as sloppy as he wanted. I told him I was just going to chill and I'd be there to give him a bite whenever he was ready.

He seemed to take advantage of this.

But as I settled into this state of slowness, I thought to myself that television does not encourage slowness. Television is all about the 15 or 30 second commercial: BAM BAM BAM. The thirty minute program. BAM. Instant entertainment, movies on demand, news 24 hours a day.

Take a deep breath this weekend. Slow down. Do something that takes forever, and forget about the time your wasting.

And have a great Friday.

Book #8 on my list of favorite novels of all time is . . .

A man pulls up to a traffic light - it's red, and he waits for the signal to change, but it never does because as he is sitting there, waiting, his eyes are taken over by a strange white blindness.

Jose Saramago's book "Blindness" opens with this scene, but the situation only continues to get worse as more and more people in the city go blind. Soon the officials begin isolating those struck blind, hoping that if it is contagious they can stop the spread.

Soon the main characters of the book find themselves quarantined in an old asylum. Food is left for them in the yard, but there are no guards to oversee them, no doctors to help them in their blindness, and the conditions in the asylum quickly begin to deteriorate.

Two camps form - one, led by a lifelong blind man (since he is used to the lack of eyesight he now rules the newly blind) is corrupt and violent, stealing the food and terrorizing the inmates. The other group is led by a woman - for some reason, she never lost her vision.

"Blindness" is very much a Lord of the Flies involving adults - take away all of these luxuries that we currently live with (sight, excess food, comfort, clothing, etc): how would we behave? Would we become animals? Or is there something about us that is different, something that makes us human?

And, perhaps most importantly, how would we see the world, each other, our lives, if all of us were blind? Fighting, Saramago contends, is always a form of blindness . . .

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Spork Post

I'm tired of talking about television. And I've got another 338 days to try to think up posts about the tube, so today I'm going to talk about something else we should rid society of.

The spork.

That's right, I'm talking about the small plastic utensil many toddlers use when they are first learning to eat. Shaped like a spoon, the tip of it is slotted to create two or three prongs that don't really go anywhere - they're just part of the spork.

This is useless.

It is slotted, so it has no usefulness as a spoon. Kids can't eat soup with it. It sieves the cereal from their bowl of milk. Anything slightly runny or fluid just drips out the bottom.

But it's no good as a fork either, because the end of it is round. You can't skewer anything with it: hot dogs, mac and cheese, beef - all are resistant to the inadequate prod of a spork.

Things that are just as useless as a spork:
1) pretending that the finale of Lost is next week (Bryan, we all know it will never actually end)
2) half-time show for the Super Bowl (I know one person, 1 person!, that looks forward to that)
3) having an American Idol panel made up of anyone besides Simon, Randy and Paula

Alas, I'm right back to television . . .

Anything you find particularly useless?

Tune in tomorrow for my 8th favorite novel of all time.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Break Up Letter To My Television

Dear Telly

I'm sorry to be doing this by email, but I just didn't think I'd be able to stand the look on your screen if I told you face to face.

We're through.

I know we had so many good times: Mr. Rogers, Sesame Street and 321 Contact when we first met. Then there was my first foray into prime time: the Cosby Show and Candid Camera. But I was young, and so much has changed. You've moved beyond me. You've committed yourself to two hour chunks of time, like American Idol and Biggest Loser, and you've gone on and on and on in never-ending series like Lost and 24. I just can't do it.

I want to see other people. Real people, not the flat screen type. I want to read more. I want a full night's sleep - you're so demanding in the evening! It's all or nothing with you.

So for now it has to be nothing.

What? No, there's no one else. I know you've seen me spending more time with the computer, but she's just a friend. She knows how to listen. She doesn't keep me up at night. She's not that type.

I know, I know, I've heard you say it before. "I'll be waiting." I know you will. And I'm sure that one of these days I'll probably come crawling back, remote in hand, trying to make amends. But not now. Not today. Maybe not ever.

So there it is. I'm sorry about the dust all over you - I'll try to find the time to clean you off. But you're going to stay unplugged. That's just how it has to be.

Hang in there. You'll find somebody else.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Option #3: Breaking My Brother-In-Law's Television Set

First of all, happy birthday to my brother-in-law Ben, who turned 35 on Saturday. He runs a first class tennis academy right here in Lancaster County, so if you are interested in tennis you've got to look him up at Ben Halvorsen Tennis.

Anyway . . . the reason I bring him up, and the fact that he is getting really, really old, is that we went to his birthday party last night. We were hanging out in the kitchen, and at some point someone went into the living room and turned on the television to watch the Vikings/Saints game.

INTERESTING TELEVISION DILEMMA #1 - so this is the first time this has happened, but I'd imagine that it won't be the last: we go to someone's house to hang out and (gasp!) a tv set suddenly turns on. What to do? I ask you . . . WHAT TO DO!?!

Option one - watch television, breaking the fast but realizing the whole point of the thing is to become more involved in life, not less involved (I would consider hanging out alone in an empty kitchen being less involved in life, vs. going into the room where the tv is on and people are cheering and arguing and having fun)

Option two - go into the room where the television is but don't watch the television, either by sitting where it is not visible or by wearing some sort of blindfold or sophisticated blinder device

Option three - break the television (accidentally on purpose) since our obviously subversive goal is to rid the world of the idiot box

Option four - find something even more fun, like Twister, and do that in the kitchen so that everyone wants to hang out with the cool, we're-not-watching-tv-and-we're-so-much-better-than-you couple.

Option five - just go with the flow

Okay, so I chose option five. And since enough people stayed in the kitchen to keep conversation interesting and fun, that's where I stayed. And, yet again, in some small way I feel like my life was a bit better because of this decision not to watch television. Not I-won-the-lottery better, or I've-just-had-another-child better, but slightly better. For example, the few times I peeked into the living room, the folks watching television weren't jumping around and giving each other high fives but were mostly just staring at the television like zombies. There was some polite conversation, but it was mostly along the lines of:

"So what do you think of that Brett Favre?" (still staring at the tv)
"Good quarterback. Indecisive."
"Good sausage bites, eh?"
"What's up with that Saints emblem?"
"I think it's a floor-d-something."

In the kitchen I was catching up with people I hadn't seen for years and talking, actually talking and not just letting sounds escape from my mouth. So that was fun, more fun than watching television, which is what I would have done if this happened a month ago.

Have a great Monday. INTERESTING TELEVISION CHALLENGE: Sometime tonight, when you're about to turn on the television just stop and think for a moment - isn't there something else you'd rather be doing?