Friday, May 25, 2007



These kids today – with their hippity-hop and their rock and/or roll– what are we gonna do with ‘em? From the Ice Age to the Electronic Age, adults have been shaking their heads and asking that question. When I was younger, they were talkin’ ‘bout my generation. People tried to put us down. Just because we sat around (watching the MTV).

Now it’s my turn.

I believe most kids are good, decent and capable of great intelligence. But we’re faced with a generation whose thirst for knowledge has been dampened by technology and the prospect of exerting a little effort. If it can’t be popped into the X-Box or the Wii and fed to their brains in high-definition SurroundSound, why bother?

While working on a geography report, a friend’s kid asked me, "Is Puerto Rico in California?" I replied, "Look it up." She responded, "If I have to look it up, I don’t need to know," before turning back to her all-important Google search for pictures of shirtless teen heartthrobs.

Another kid I know got a D because she couldn’t recite the Preamble to the Constitution. She defended the grade as acceptable because it wasn’t an F. "It’s still a passing grade," she said. "Besides, I can’t remember all that stuff!" Then she switched on her Snoop Dogg CD and proceeded to drop it like it was hot – without missing a word.

It saddens me when anyone, especially a child, closes the door to learning because it takes a little work. It’s criminal when a kid knows more about American Idol than American history, when they can quote Linkin Park but not Abraham Lincoln, when they can do the Harlem Shake, but have never heard of the Harlem Renaissance.

Sure, I was a teenager once. I had my idols and knew their every vital statistic (Andy Gibb, born Andrew Roy Gibb, March 5, 1958). But I also knew that Kansas’ Carry on, Wayward Son was drawn from the Greek myth of Icarus and that Freddie Mercury’s homeland of Zanzibar was once an independent African state, but united with Tanganyika in the ‘60s to form Tanzania.

Was I a freak of nature? Yeah, but I also kicked butt in Trivial Pursuit and Jeopardy. Today’s ultra-hip crowd would surely deem me a "geek," a "dork," a "herb," or whatever the kids are calling it nowadays.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying all kids have no interest in enriching their minds; I know many who do. But we – society, the media, parents, adults in general – make it easy for them to sell themselves short. These days, information is literally at their fingertips. It’s not like back in our day, when we had to actually turn pages!

Real life isn’t The OC or Dawson’s Creek, where 45-year-old writers put 35-year-old wisdom in the mouths of 25-year-old actors playing 15-year-old kids. It takes a village not only to raise children, but to educate them in and out of the classroom.

Ignorance isn’t bliss; it’s dangerous. The more our kids know, the more prepared they’ll be for a world that’s one part playing field, two parts battlefield. They need to be armed. And I don’t mean with bullets.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Summer is open season for TV


Summertime – and the livin’ is easy, but the viewin’ is repetitive. Though we’ve just entered May Sweeps, it won’t be long before the summer TV season is upon us, that time when many shows go on hiatus, which I once thought was a sort of hernia, but have since learned is from the Latin hi- ("Hello") -atus ("We’ve gone to lunch for three months, please leave a message after the beep").

Rerun season does have its advantages. For one, it gives viewers a chance to catch episodes of their favorite shows they may have missed the first time around. Secondly, it draws new viewers to shows they’d never watched before. It’s also when networks unpack their summer replacement shows, a few of which are worth staying inside to watch. Summer TV has brought the good – Happy Days, Seinfeld, Entourage, Northern Exposure), the bad (I Want to Be a Hilton), and the downright ugly (Being Bobby Brown).

But sometimes the summer pickings can be pretty slim and often, the new stuff is a variation on the old - different actors, different locales, same premise. By next year, we could be watching CSI: Miamisburg, ‘cos every other U.S. city will already have its own version of the show.

What the heck, let’s throw another Law & Order on the pile! Only instead of the seamy underbelly of NYC, this one could be set in L.A. And instead of nabbing street thugs and white-collar villains, the good guys could take down celebrities who run afoul of the law. Who wouldn’t want to see a reenactment of Paris Hilton’s upcoming stay in the slammer? I’ve even thought up the perfect name for the show: Law & Order: SVU (Spoiled, Vacant, Untalented).

Here are a few more shows that could make summer viewing more entertaining:

4S*T*A*S*H – A "medicinal pharmaceuticals specialist" (Snoop Dogg) devises increasingly novel methods of smuggling his homegrown remedies through airport security.

4Big Brothel – Heidi "The Hollywood Madam" Fleiss plays herself in this comedy-drama. Charlie Sheen appears in a recurring role.

4The Courtney Love Boat – Come aboard, she’s expecting you. But be afraid. Be very afraid.

4Beauties and the Beasts – Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio. Ric Ocasek and Paulina Porizkova. Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley. Avril Lavigne and Deryck Whibley. Jay-Z and Beyonce. Mick Jagger and every woman he’s been with. Barbara Walters takes an in-depth look at these and other celebrity couples in an attempt to solve a mystery that has long puzzled men all over the world: How do guys who can kindly be called "handsomeness-challenged" land these ├╝berhotties?

4‘Bama’s Family – This laugh-a-minute comedy centers around a squabbling Southern family headed by Clem Jenkins (Barack Obama). Carol Burnett co-stars as his ornery wife Eunice.

4American Midol – They’re bloated! They’re cranky! They’re opinionated! Rosie O’Donnell and Roseanne Barr are the judges in this new edition of the popular talent competition. You can bet Sanjaya won’t make it past the audition stage. Even if he brings chocolate.

4Pimp My Bride – Kevin Federline stars as a guy who rides his wife’s coattails to fame and uses her millions as his primary source of income. Now that I think about it, I’d better throw in a sassy neighbor kid and a loveable alien. Otherwise, it might be mistaken for a reality show.