Going to get on my “grumpy old man” soapbox for a moment.
All these PBS/Nick Jr/Whatever shows all talk directly to the kids watching, encouraging them to make the same physical movements the characters are as a way to get them active. Not a bad goal, of course.
But when I was a kid the shows I watched (GI Joe, He-Man, etc) encouraged me to be active by creating worlds that I wanted to make my own adventures within. Even outside of the copious amounts of action figures I had for Joe, Star Wars, Transformers and so on, I went out and ran around the open area across the street with my friends as we pretended to be Duke, Luke or whomever. We didn’t need Roadblock to tell us to move our arms (though we did need him to tell us what to do in case there was a kitchen fire), we just needed the character to be simultaneously awesome and ridiculously paper thin so we wanted to imagine more adventures for him and the rest of the team.
I of course loved Roger Ebert’s film criticism. Like the best critics he tried to point people to films he thought were worthwhile and important but he also seemed to convey the “Hey, I didn’t dig it but if this is up your alley then go for it” attitude about movies he wasn’t a fan of. The point of being an art critic of any sort is to try and raise everyone’s tastes while also being respectful of other points of view. Art is, of course, subjective.
But what really made a lasting impression with me was one bit of writing advice he shared years and years ago (I have no idea where or exactly when) in an interview. He recounted someone asking him how long a story they were writing should be and he answered them with something along the lines of “Exactly as long as it needs to be” or “When it’s long enough, it’s long enough.” The point being that there was no objective measure to writing. When you were done conveying what you were trying to say, the piece is done. That’s exactly as long as it should be.
That piece of wisdom is in the back of my mind whenever I start writing. Being one who has a tendency to run off at the keyboard a bit I’m constantly wondering if I need to make cuts. Sometimes I do, of course, but other times I hear Ebert’s voice in the back of my mind saying “It’s done when it’s done.” It’s that thought that has me a little choked up at the moment.
Thanks for all the great words, Roger. We never met in person but you were a big part of my life. No matter how many more remembrances, eulogies and retrospectives are written about your life, they’re not enough. The piece won’t be done because we all can’t stop talking about your impact.
…singing “Now All the Vault of Heaven Resounds” so loudly and passionately you blow your voice out for the rest of the evening.
But what if replacing urban highways with city-scaled roadways and more transit options weren’t impossible? What if we agreed that we needed to think less about the demands for infrastructure today and plan better for our lifestyles and transportation patterns 50 years from now?
via Imagining Cities Without Highways | Co.Exist: World changing ideas and innovation.
It’s a question I offer ponder. After all, with the rise of tele-commuting and with changes in demographic behaviors, some of which this article mentions, highways aren’t likely to be as necessary an economic growth driver as they once were. So let’s start planning for their eventual phasing out instead of pouring millions of dollars into outdated technology.
Sorry, but with all the talk about Pebble and various other “smart watch” development by Google and others I can’t be the only one who keeps having this classic bit of dialogue pop into his head, right?
Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the galaxy lies a small, unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly 92 million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.
As a life-long geek when it comes to things regarding naval and air warfare this Wired piece about what kind of ships could replace the current form of aircraft carrier is right up my alley. Now all I need are the G.I. Joe equivalents of these ships and I’ll be all set.
So for all the work I need to get done today I think most of my time will be spent pressing the “Don’t Panic” screen on the Google Doodle today, which celebrates what would have been the 61st birthday of author Douglas Adams.
Screenshot from Wired GeekDad.
I’d been feeling a little bit like I was missing out by not being at SXSW. I saw everyone’s cool updates and thought that, yeah, that must be what things are supposed to look like. But this weekend I went to a movie with one son and had a blast. And I got to say goodnight and hug the other one before bedtime each night. And I realized that nope, this is where I’m supposed to be right now.
The people who are schmoozing in Austin may be having a blast at their parties, hosted by companies who think that buying people beer means they’ll be seen as “getting” social media. And those people may even advance farther in their careers than I will because they’ve done a ton of networking, scratching the itching ears of others who will then see them as influential because the pablum they spout makes everyone feel warm and fuzzy. That’s not me, though. And I’m really glad it’s not.
There are times where I need to be away and that’s right, but this wasn’t one of them. Because while some people might say “Well you can do that stuff with your kids anytime” they’d be correct. Right up until the moment they’re not, at which point I’m going to be glad my priorities were in the right place at the right time. I hugged my kids this weekend. That means a whole lot more to me than anything else in the world.