Friday, February 19, 2010

F = Friday = Fun

I'm sitting in a Panera Bread in Rochester, NY. The staff behind the counter are talking about how they have to work an extra shift, so they have loads of Red Bull in the fridge. I'm wondering what it will be like to be served lunch by someone on their third Red Bull, flying around the store. Literally.

Red Bull gives you wings.

Sounds like fun. But that's what Fridays are all about: F = Fun = Friday

So in the same spirit of fun, here's a game for the day: name that show. The following is a summary of episode one for a show that ran from 1978 - 1986:

A wealthy Manhattan industrialist takes in the two sons of his late housekeeper. The 8 year old is excited about the opportunity of a privileged life, but the 13 year old feels that the man is trying to buy their love with expensive gifts.

Know what it is? Too easy? Click here for the answer.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

My Fifth Favorite Novel of All Time Is . . .

First of all, if you want to start off your Thursday with a hilarious video interviewing people about today's economy, you've got to watch this classic by Tripp Crosby

Now, on to the business for the day - we've reached the midway point of my list of top ten novels of all time. That's right, ALL . . . TIME . . .

Number five on the list has just about everything: murder, history, a monastary, a mystery, detective-monk, and a labyrinth for a library. Any guesses? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

It's "The Name of the Rose" by the Italian auther Umberto Eco (who, by the way also wrote some other intriguing books: "Foucault's Pendulum" and "The Island of the Day Before" just to name a few).

I found the following summary at and couldn't describe it any better myself:

"In 1327, Brother William of Baskerville is sent to investigate a wealthy Italian abbey whose monks are suspected of heresy. When his mission is overshadowed by seven bizarre deaths patterned on the book of Revelation, Brother William turns detective, following the trail of a conspiracy that brings him face-to-face with the abbey’s labyrinthine secrets, the subversive effects of laughter, and the medieval Inquisition. Caught in a power struggle between the emperor he serves and the pope who rules the Church, Brother William comes to see that what is at stake is larger than any mere political dispute–that his investigation is being blocked by those who fear imagination, curiosity, and the power of ideas.

"The Name of the Rose offers the reader not only an ingeniously constructed mystery—complete with secret symbols and coded manuscripts—but also an unparalleled portrait of the medieval world on the brink of profound transformation."

This book is exquisitely written - by that I am also saying it is not a quick read by any means. Think of it this way . . . if you want a quick dessert, you go to McDonald's and get an ice cream cone; if you want something rich, something that will take you more than two minutes to consume, something that will blow your senses, you go to a gourmet restaurant and order their 3 Layer Dark Chocolate Cake with Homemade Vanilla Custard.

The Name of the Rose is the cake and custard.

Have you ever read anything that your brain thought tasted like a McDonald's ice cream cone?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Something TV Is Good For

First of all, a huge thanks to Bryan Allain (last name pronounced uh-lane) whom I've known for a while now but apparently have been mispronouncing his last name. He did a great job reviewing blogs for our writing workshop last night, braving the black ice and spinning vehicles to join us.

Now on to a major revelation I had last night regarding something that television is good for . . .

I got home around 9:30pm from class last night. We were going to drive to Rochester, NY, so the van was packed and ready to go - all I needed was to swing by my parent's house and pick up my family and a few things I had forgotten. But when I got to the house, all was quiet.

Hmmm, I thought. Where'd everybody go? I grabbed one last suitcase, an extra coat and finished loading the van. Came back inside. Still, no one. But I thought I heard voices upstairs, so I followed them. This is when I discovered.

There might be one thing TV is good for.

My mom and dad and sister and three of my kids were all crammed into the loft watching the Olympics, and they were having a good time. Through the window I could see all the snow, and in the loft everyone was covered with blankets and snacking and having fun.

In that split second I realized, since we stopped watching TV we have probably missed out on some fun evenings interacting with my family.

This of course has thrown my entire world view for a tailspin.

What do you think? Is forsaking television for this amount of time going to ruin all of our relationships, turn us into hermits? Or do we just need to break more televisions in order to get quality time with people?

**I completely understand that some of you have had trouble posting comments on blogspot, something which is annoying me to no end (blogspot, not you). I am looking into transferring this blog over to wordpress, but in the mean time, you can still comment on here with a google account or feel free to comment on my facebook page when I post about this blog.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Our Year Without TV - Day 47

Today marks day 47 of our year without television. That's approximately 165 hours saved (based on the average television viewing of normal human beings at 3.5 hours per day). For me it's translated into a few extra books read to the kids, a few extra books read by me ("All the Pretty Horses" and "The Crossing" by Cormac McCarthy, which I've been reading mostly in the evenings in leiu of tv), and some quiet evenings with my wife.

Just last night Maile and I were sitting on the sofa. I was eating Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream and she was reading Born To Run (a book about this dude who, after studying a Mexican tribe and doing some studies, thinks that running barefoot is the way to go).

Maile turned to me and said, "I don't miss television at all." Then she kept reading.

The funny thing is, neither do I. Now that we've been doing other things in the evening for the last 47 days, I don't even think about tv as an option any more.

This makes me wonder . . . are there other pointless activities I am conducting in my life that I should reconsider? Now don't get me wrong - recreational activities are important to our well-being. It seems vital to me that we all do things that help us unwind and recharge.

But, as my good friend Kevin Baugh reminded me once, we often mistake mindless activity for recreational activity. Think about the break down of that word for a moment - recreational - re creational - re creation al - re create. Are your recreational activities literally re-creating you, or are they bringing you down, sapping your mind and wasting your time? You should come out of a recreational activity feeling invigorated and excited, not wasted and lazy.

Maybe today would be a good day to replace one of our deconstructive activities with a recreational one - instead of watching tv, go for a walk; instead of playing video games, read a book to a child; instead of eating a bowl of ice cream, start a journal.

Recreate yourself.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Get Yourself Into The Guinness Book of World Records - Just Watch TV For 72 Hours Straight

Today is a tribute to Sri Lankan born Joachim. About a year ago, he nabbed yet another Guinness Book record by watching television for 72 hours straight. Could you do this? I know of only one person who could break this record, and that would be Bryan Allain if Lost was on for that period of time.

But this is not the only excessive accomplishment by Joachim - he holds 53 other Guinness records. Some of them are listed here, as well as reasons I could or could not break the record myself, if I tried:

- longest karaoke marathon (25 hours, 49 minutes) I'm not really into the whole karaoke scene. I could not break this record

- the longest time standing on one foot (76 hours, 40 minutes); I am assuming this means without any props. I don't think I could stay awake for three straight days. I could not break this record.

- the longest bout of ironing clothes (55 hours, five minutes); I have ironed one piece of clothing in the last ten years, and I can't even remember what it was but I say one piece because I'm sure I must have ironed something since I got married I could not break this record.

- carried a 4.5 kg brick for 135.5 km. I think I could carry a 9 pound brick 100 miles. I don't think my wife would let me go for the amount of time it would take, if that was all I planned on accomplishing while she looked after our four kids. I could not break this record.

- crawled non-stop for 56.62 km. I sometimes crawl after my kids, pretending to be a monster. They like this, but I usually only last about twenty minutes, after which my knees start to ache. This means, at most, I have probably crawled about 100 yards. I don't think I would make it 30 miles. However, my 7-month old son Sam is a crawling maniac. He could break this record, if Maile and I walked really slowly in front of him the whole time.

So I guess we've established that, apart from the crawling record, Joachim's numerous Guinness accomplishments are safe for the time being. I'm curious, though . . . are any of the records mentioned above within your grasp? Or perhaps you'd prefer to break one of Joachim's other records: dribbling a basketball for 156.71 km in 24 hours; dancing for 100 hours continuously; moon walking for 24 hours; performing at a non-stop musical for 42 hours; or pushing a car for 19.2 km in 24 hours.