Archive for Thursday, August 11, 2005

Have I become cultured?

August 11, 2005

Excuse me, but I'm afraid I've become more cultured. I know that's as hard to read as it is for me to write. But, I can't deny it.

Why?

Well, first there was one sign, then another and then it just kept happening. While I haven't quite taken up listening to classical music yet, as this trend develops it's not going to surprise me if that happens.

Oh, my.

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  • My cultural metamorphous has been gradual. I won't put one thing as the first sign, but I certainly know when this trend went beyond a few scattered incidents and hit me between the eyes like a 2-by-4.

I watched PBS.

Yes, folks, I tuned the television to the Public Broadcasting System a couple of weeks ago. And, yes, it was actually on purpose.

I had heard about the documentary "Bleeding Kansas" and wanted to see it for myself. While not a staunch fan, historian, interested person or whatever you want to call it, I had fancied myself as at least a little "up" on the Civil War after taking a class in it in college.

Never mind that I dropped that class and never got a grade.

I still bought the books, read them and was a student of the Civil War until my grade-point average suggested otherwise and I punted the course mid semester. Besides that, my brother, Tim, is a student of the Civil War, so that counts, too.

But, "Bleeding Kansas" went beyond what I'd ever known before. It also filled in a lot of gaps I had between the importance of various events leading up to the war.

I knew about the Battle of Black Jack, which took place just east of Baldwin, but had never really made the connection to other events. I knew about John Brown, a real martyr of the Civil War, especially after spending the 15 longest months of my life working in Osawatomie. But, that's another story.

I knew about Quantrill's raid, the sacking of Lawrence, etc., etc., etc. But, I honestly didn't know about the history of the territorial struggles over Kansas, Nebraska, etc. It was extremely interesting. I learned a lot.

If you haven't seen the documentary, I highly recommend it. Despite my new-found cultural ways, I will warn you, however. In fine PBS style, it is dry, with laughable re-enactments and tons of voice overs pretending to be certain people of the time. Another warning. I was disappointed that despite the tons and tons of historical facts presented, a majority of which involved this area, there was no mention of Signal Oak, yet another of Baldwin's historical icons.

And, one last warning. They don't have commercials on PBS. Make your restroom break before it starts. OK, so much for culture.

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  • Another cultural blossom for me is movie day. More specifically, movie day with the DVD. What an invention. Currently, movie day masks for "too hot to be outside day" and staying in the air conditioning. That seems cultural to me.

I've been watching lots of movies lately and they've all been great. But, I really have to go out on a limb with the most recent. It is "The Aviator," which chronicles the bizarre life of famed tycoon Howard Hughes, who many of us only recall for his reclusive days as his life wound down.

The movie was fascinating. While I thought I knew about Hughes, I really didn't. I didn't know about his movie making or the harem of Hollywood stars he had -- especially Kathyrn Hepburn. I had no idea.

Anyway, if you haven't seen the movie you should. Although there's no dryness, no boring history, the movie is rather lengthy. But, if you see it via DVD, the restroom break before hand is moot. Just hit pause to pause.

Like I said, what a wonderful invention. That's culture.

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  • Lastly on my journey toward being a cultural highbrow is CBS Sunday Morning. I've become addicted.

While it may be television and network television at that, CBS Sunday Morning is in a class of its own. It's an hour and a half of television journalism which is what television should be. Unfortunately, it stands alone.

It's been a couple of months ago when I quite by accident stumbled across the show early one Sunday. I so enjoyed it. Instead of the 10-, 20- or 30-second "sound bytes" we're used to with TV journalism, these stories are told right. They are given the time necessary to really tell a story.

Now it's to the point that I can't miss it. There may not be much to count on in this world sometimes, but you can count on me being in front of the tube watching that show every Sunday. There are commercials, however, and that's OK. Certainly there is no cause for that many bathroom breaks, but it allows time for another of my Sunday weekly passions -- reading the Journal-World from cover to cover, section by section.

That's some more culture. And, yes, I'm full of it by now. I doubt there's room for classical music. But, I will share one last thought, as they do on CBS Sunday Morning, with a look at nature, the sounds and sights of animals or birds migrating or whatever. Last week's was a look at the many beautiful wild flowers in the Colorado Rockies. It was peaceful, it was serene, it was beautiful.

That was until they showed one "flower." It was a thistle, one of the nastiest most hated weeds in the world -- at least the world of farmers and ranchers. I laughed at the mistake and then, again, when they showed another one a few seconds later.

So much for culture. Them boys don't know what a weed is. I do.

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