Sunday 26 August 2012

Opiate For The Asses

I think we can all agree that television for the most part is a colossal waste of time. Just because I am aware of this, the knowledge doesn’t deter me from watching my weight in crap TV daily.

Karl Marx once said that Religion is the opiate of the masses, and is his day I am sure that had more than a little truth to it. I think that television has replaced religion as the opiate of choice and it has replaced learning, reading, entertainment and social interaction. Don’t get me wrong, I think that TV is and can be a wonderful tool for the betterment of mankind, but that doesn’t seem to be the direction it is headed. By television, I mean video entertainment shows whether they are on regular TV or on digital devices of any sort.

I spent a few hours today helping build a deck with my son-in-law and while we were working, Chris mentioned that he had watched a few shows on deck building that have become popular this year. The problem was that although the show builds wonderful and amazing decks, they don’t really show just how they do it. There is a lot of time spent on the show doing demolition, followed by site prep which they just kind of gloss over. You know the digging of numerous holes and pouring cement footings and squaring the posts as well as making sure they are in a straight line. This is a challenge at times and helpful hints would be appreciated. The design is pretty airy-fairy and really not too realistic for most back yard spaces. The selection of materials don’t take into account the common mans budget and most of us don’t have an experienced crew of deck builders and designers at our beck and call.

I know that this is first and foremost and entertainment program, but there have been shows in the past that were actually helpful for doing home repair. Shows like This Old House and Woodwrights shop stand out in my mind. Both are still in production and teaching techniques as well as entertaining people. This Old House only does very large projects now and they love to use all of the latest, most expensive products and techniques on the market. It is fun to watch what can be done, but they tell you that most of what they do is done by professionals. They have a show called Ask This Old House and it is all about showing the home owner just how to do these simple projects. I have been a fan of the Woodwrights Shop since it first aired in 1979 and Roy Underhill continues to amaze me with his knowledge and talent. He manages to teach in a way that feels like you are talking to an old friend.

There are quality shows out there, but if the show you are watching doesn’t have mistakes and challenges to overcome, then just turn it off. I kind of like Mike Holmes, but his show is really about learning how to get a good contractor and not about how to repair the problems.

I will continue to watch all of the garbage that the networks put out, but I will also seek out those shows of quality that entertain and inform. Just in case you were wondering, the deck turned out wonderfully, with just a few problems that will only be seen by Chris. I think that Hurricane and Tornado will have many wonderful years using the deck as a pirate ship, a stage, an outdoor kitchen, a bowling alley, wrestling ring and many things that Poppa can’t even begin to imagine.

Here are some links to some fine shows that actually are entertaining and instructional.

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