Friday, March 27, 2009

Reading is Fun

One of the advantages of the Imus premium service is that you can listen to the show without commercials. And one of the downsides? Listening to the show without commercials.

And by "commercials," I mean those epic PSAs that tell us how to live our lives. One disturbing trend I'd noticed while listening to the stream was that, on average, 90% of the PSAs could be divided into the following categories:

1)Your kids are off doing horrible, antisocial things - doing drugs, cheating in school, singing off-key ditties about their chronic asthma problem - all at the same time. Since you’ve never talked to your kids about these issues, you are a despicable parent who should never have been allowed to procreate.

2) There are millions of foster children who desperately want you to adopt them.


In recent times they've been playing "Joys of Reading" PSAs, sponsored by some National Literacy Organization. (So along with being a deadbeat parent, you also can't read no good.) An announcer would read a passage from a "nature adventure" book, and then they'd announce, like a radio DJ at the end of a song, "That was (title), written by (author). To read more, go to our website."

The reason I'm mentioning these commercials is that they brought back a very special memory, one that will resonate with those of you around my age. The other day, the literacy group advertised the book "Hatchet."

Hatchet was this book about a kid who survives a plane crash and has to fend for himself in the wilderness. This was one of those children's "nature appreciation" books that tried to get kids to put down the Nintendo and enjoy the environment. The problem was, nearly all of these books embraced the wilderness by having the characters stranded in the woods, starving to death, being badly hurt, and doing everything they could to get OUT of the wilderness.

I have never understood why the authors used this tactic. If I wanted kids to appreciate nature, I think I'd write about a book about how nature is, you know, fun. Now, we all know that the wild is filled with horrifying things - snakes, carnivores, Southern men politely requesting you to squeal like a pig - but geez, it isn't all terrible. Write about the fun parts, like canoeing and hiking and going on adventures. Don't write about urine-drinking or cousin-eating or crawling out of the plane wreckage, injured and covered in jet fuel, as the pilot slowly burns alive in the inferno. And you wonder why kids don't play outside anymore.

Anyway, at the time I was the only ten-year-old on the North American continent who had never read the book. EVERYONE read this novel; it was the village bicycle of book reports. I don't know why I never looked into it. I guess I grew tired of hearing fifty presentations, all in a row, about how a kid has to eat turtle eggs for 150 pages. And plus, I knew without reading it that the boy would get rescued in the end. The great thing about books for that age was that 95% of them had a happy ending; you knew that the author wouldn't give you the finger and have the kid get eaten by wolverines.

Even better, the book was so successful that the author wrote four sequels about the boy getting stranded in the forest. It was the Police Academy of young adult fiction. Honestly, some people just need to stay away from airplanes.

But even though I successfully avoided reading Hatchet as a child, it appears that as an adult I still haven’t escaped it entirely; they now advertise it in, of all places, my favorite radio program. I have come full circle.

So thank you, Imus in the Morning, for bringing back those memories. And if that National Council really want to boost literacy, then I suggest that they ditch the fourth-grade nature novels and have Charles read aloud from Portnoy’s Complaint or 120 Days of Sodom. Now THAT would get people reading.

20 comments:

Al said...

Wow, CG, I'm gonna have to stop switching over to Sirius-XM when the Imus commercials come on! Thanks for the inspiration!...

That Imus premium 'thing' seems like what they do with the Satellite music channels...programming without the commercials! Way to go, I-Man!

Mike said...

Haha, excellent piece.

And Charles should read aloud more often. He had me all captivated with the Polar Express last year. If he were to ever narrate the Bible, I'd be such a better Catholic.

Bruce said...

Always good CG,

Have a question for QueenPat. Where does the information concerning Imus will not be on next week due to a delay in San Francisco. Notify Ree or just post it here.

Can't find this information anywhere.

Thank You.

Queenpat said...

It was mentioned by Bernie on Friday's program. He went through the lists of guests. It was on before 9 AM, because I left for work about that time. Now, I didn't catch the timeframe in the beginning, if this week or next week, but there was a week worth of BOI mentions.

CG said...

Haha, what would we do without the PSAs. I still remember the one about the kid who ate from the trash behind the deli. I wonder what happened to him?

I think my favorite "narration" of Charles' occurred about a year ago, when the mayor of Detroit was caught having an affair with an aide. They had texted each other a bunch of times, and those messages were eventually made public. One day Charles was reading them aloud during the newscast:

"The mayor texted her, saying, quote, 'I want you. I need you. Come over tonight.' To which she responded," (does his best 'sassy black woman' voice), "'HELLLLL YEAAAAHHH!!!!'"


um...I nearly died

Mike said...

Haha, YES! I think that was the day that Charles couldn't stop giggling throughout all of his news reports...I need to start bookmarking shows like that so I can go back to them. Still trying to find Warner's first show, and the day George Weber subbed for Chuck.

Al said...

Best of Imus should include some of Charles' memorable moments in reading!

...and, btw, a little after 9 this morning, they replayed the Dice Clay(Rob) bit that was censored on RFD TV.

Anonymous said...

Warner's first broadcast: 12/17/07

George Weber subs: 2/19/08

Anonymous said...

http://tinyurl.com/dm92sk

Let's visit!

Al said...

oh my god...Charles just told the I-Man to "Shut the F up!"

Ha! too funny!...I-Man sure knows how to push McCord's buttons...

CG said...

Is that his house? Sweet!

Ha, that exchange from this morning sounds pretty funny. Yesterday I only caught 5 minutes of program, but I happened to overhear the part when the I-Man was talking about his upcoming doctor visit. "Man, who knows what he'll find up there when he examines me. Maybe my Rolex watch."

Bernie: "No, more like McCord's Rolex watch."

classy

Al said...

and then today, Bernie and Imus were actually talking about possibly having Dick Morris appear on the show?
After all the dog collar, hookers and stuff that Imus has previously said about Dick Morris?!

Even this morning, they talking about where they could "slip Dick in"..."Maybe we can slip Dick in between" whatever guests they have scheduled for Thursday...

It will be quite a coup if Bernie can book Dick Morris!

Mike said...

Theory: The program has pushed the envelope more, and has consequently been funnier, since the diagnosis.

i.e. the raunchy Dice Clay monologue, the "hairy balls" discussion between Imus and Karith, and the bits you guys have highlighted here. Perhaps the cancer card is being tacitly played to stave off the easily offended from bitching about the blue dialogue?

Anonymous said...

What's going on?

Rob and Tony are nowhere to be found this morning. No mention of them. But more unfunny Karith/Matt talk.

I find it hard to believe that they are being censored, when nothing they've said was nearly as edgy as some of the things that have passed through the I-Man's and especially Bernard's lips.

What gives?

Al said...

As far as Tony, Rob and Karith, who knows what Imus is up to? When it comes to dealing with people, expect the unexpected from the I-Man...

and, For more on Charles 'meltdown' today, read Laurie Cantillo's blog at Imus.com!!

dee said...

The "picking on Karith" routine is getting very, very old. It wasn't funny the first time and still isn't funny the thousandth time! It sends me to the mute button.

Al said...

re: Karith...

I think dee and anonymous speak for many, many Imus in the Morning listeners...

personally, during those un-listenalbe Imus moments, I keep my Satellite radio headphones very close by.

Anonymous said...

And this morning...unfortunately, more of the same. Tedious. Who is giving them the message that Karith talking about her boyfriend, his snake, and her dog are of interest to ANYBODY other than herself?

What was more troubling to me was who was absent. Where were Rob and Tony this morning? Have they been suspended for whatever they were censured for? They can't possibly think that KARITH is preferable to two genuinely funny talents.

Al said...

Maybe Rob and Tony are out on Strike, over the censorship issue...

dee said...

I have no problem with Karith - I think she's funny, but Imus should just let her do her bits. Instead all her on-air time involves him giving her a hard time. It reminds me of Chris who used to do sports and got interrupted and called fat every 3 seconds. That wasn't funny either.