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Thursday, February 27, 2003

Paper, Ink, and Hops

I like reading in pubs. Notice that I didn't say bars. There's a big difference between bars and pubs. When I say a pub I don't mean some corporate shit hole that has a bunch of random crap nailed up on the wall in imitation of some pub somewhere that actually has a soul and wasn't created on a boardroom table by committee. When I say pub I mean a neighborhood spot that has good beer on tap, decent food, and enough light to read.

There are plenty of decent bars in my immediate neighborhood but there aren't any pubs. Within a four of five block radius there are a few and on this night I walked across the Seattle Center to a newer place called Jabu's Pub. Someone had loaned me a copy of Steven Ambrose's Band of Brothers but I was on a deadline to get it back. I also wanted to get a beer so I was out to kill two very enjoyable birds with one stone.

I ordered something to drink and before I started reading I thought about how pleasant it is to be with someone who also considers reading in a pub to be fantastic entertainment. I was thoroughly engaged in Easy Company's advance into WWII when I noticed that the TV volume was at a rather annoying level. TV is like a loud, obnoxious child that is constantly screaming for attention. I won't even dignify the show by mentioning the name but let's just say that the premise was a bunch of stupid people doing stupid things.

I have said this before and I'll say it again: I am definitely not anti-TV. I don't have a TV but I do watch programs on my computer from time to time. What I object to is television's pervasiveness and influence in our society. I would prefer it if I weren't constantly bombarded in public places by the generally loathsome messages TV offers.

Maybe I'm wrong about this but I think that people who watch a lot of TV are just bored and lazy. I creeps me out that anyone who considers himself to be educated could be entertained by watching a group of surgically and chemically enhanced half-wits perform mediocre circus stunts. People who actually will admit that they never read really weird me out. What do these folks do, for example, before they go to bed at night or while they are waiting for a bus? I rarely leave the house without something to read just in case I have to wait a few minutes and I need to use that time wisely.

In an effort to bring these compulsive TV watchers into the fold of thinking adults I have thought up an idea of a reality TV show that may shame the non-thinkers into action. The title will be something like SO YOU WANT TO BE A RENAISSANCE MAN and the contestants compete in an intellectual decathlon. Each contestant will show their skills in things like translating Sophocles from the ancient Greek, playing the cello, designing a cathedral, doing advanced calculus problems, doing push-ups and pull-ups, and writing a poem.

The point of SO YOU WANT TO BE A RENAISSANCE MAN would be to show people the possibilities of the human mind and body. We seem to be a culture with incredibly one-dimensional heroes. Michael Jordan has a tough time getting through a single sentence of his native language without miss conjugating a verb. Most of our thinkers can't touch their toes. Shouldn't we all aspire to greater things than drooling over the lives of celebrities?

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