Friday, April 6, 2012

Going Beyond Adventures on “America Revealed”

Does the name Yul Kwon ring any bells?  Yes, you guessed it…he’s the winner of Survivor: Cook Islands 2006.  But more importantly, he’s now the host of the new PBS four-part series America Revealed.  And this isn’t your typical hosting gig.  Yul jumps out of aeroplanes in Kansas, climbs to the top of wind turbines in the Columbia River Gorge and takes part in a giant tomato fight in Nevada.  Talk about checking off things on the bucket list!

AMERICA REVEALED goes beyond outdoor adventures.  The program takes viewers on a journey high above the American landscape to reveal the country as never seen before travelling through time, space and systems to reveal a nation of interdependent and intricately interwoven networks that feed and power the nation, produce millions of goods, transport people great distances and still come together to make America work.
Meet a pastor in DC who has led his ministry to go green. Discover the people responsible for managing the traffic in America’s skies.  Go inside the New York Mercantile Exchange.  And where else can you find programming that digs deep into your food trash and explains how less than 2% of the population can feed the other 98%? PBS and AMERICA REVEALED do just that, and it just all sounds fascinating! 

Beginning April 11th, Tuesdays at 10p

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Being Elmo's Mom

As a mom, I was never really into parenting books. I barely picked up parenting magazines…I preferred to make my way trying to find solutions for situations that actually plagued me as opposed to looking for situations that may not even exist in my life. That said, I do depend heavily on stories from other mothers on how they raise their kids, what they did well, what they didn’t do well, lessons learned, etc…and those stories are the ones that I store in my mind and I reflect on them when I need to.

Several weeks ago, I had the chance to watch “Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey.” I was captivated. Not only was the story of this big guy who plays the voice of a small, furry character interesting, but in everything he did as a child, I was looking at his parents. As a child, Kevin Clash was always interested in puppetry. Building his own sets, creating characters, acting them out, watching the programs, and in his mind he was dreaming about how he could do that job one day. He had the passion, he had the creativity, he had the drive, and clearly he has the heart…but one key element that he had that made it all possible…he had the parents.

Sometimes I hear parents creating a path for their children, steering them in a direction that they want them to go in. Sure their children may be interested in something by default (a dentists' child will surely know a lot about teeth)…but do they LOVE it? Do they have a passion for it?

In “Being Elmo,” I watched all of the video clips of Clash as a kid putting on community puppet shows and I saw many photos of him and his characters. I heard him speak about all of the shows that he put on and how he had to search for the right fabric and sewing technique for his puppets. As a 10-year-old, I can’t say that he would have been able to do all of that if he hadn’t had such supportive parents. His parents were the ones allowing him to set up a show in the middle of the living room (surely disrupting normal “living”), his parents were the ones helping him pick out and purchase the fabric that he needed, and his parents were the ones who were holding the video camera or taking photos of his sets and his characters. Clash felt supported, justified, celebrated and he felt like he COULD do it…that is why he did.

I am a sucker for a good documentary. I am. This program is fantastic and I know that different people will get different things out of it. Whether it is seeing how the puppets work, what the Sesame Street scene looks like behind the cameras, or learning about how one puppeteer is living the dream…I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Now, I’m off to hang out with my kids, and I’m going to see what THEY want to do today…as opposed to what I want them to do today.