Saturday, December 13, 2008

Books to read your children during a financial crisis

Slate has a great article by Erica S. Perl about "Books to read your children during a financial crisis." It's accompanied by a slide show, featuring covers such as this one for "Spuds."

Sidney Iwanter begins to blog

I’m a boy who spent his formative years bicycling around taverns, drunks, prostitutes, late night poker games, homeless bums, abandoned buildings, scrap yards, poultry slaughter houses, algae-filled lakes, and murder sites, all the while bothering lonely old Mediterranean and Eastern European immigrants with chants of "feed me please." "Greenbush" was the name of the area, an old world refuge for some, but a smoldering eyesore to those who really mattered in Madison. Located an embarrassingly close distance from the State Capitol Building, The Greenbush Area beckoned to be redeveloped.

By the time I began pedaling the streets and back alleys and learning how to spit professionally on sidewalks, little greenery remained outside of the well-tended backyards of fruit trees and vegetable gardens. Most bushes especially along West Washington Blvd were soaked brown or dead by the pee of the intoxicated. The park across the street was vile and dangerous, filled with unsavory people performing acts that I still can't locate videos of to download. Lake Monona had more dead fish wash ashore on a daily basis than were caught by local fishermen. The Brittingham Park Shelter never smelled anything short of a dozen clogged outhouses. I peed in the park bushes rather than step inside that building. Yes, I admit it. I helped deforest the Greenbush enclave as well.

The Greenbush was eventually redeveloped in the late 1950s (my family migrated several blocks west at the end of that decade). By the early 1960s,the destruction of the community was complete, with most buildings razed and the old time occupants tossed into the wind like so many dead leaves.

But this blog is not about the Greenbush neighborhood, although psychologically speaking I don't really believe I ever walked away from the place. I hope one day some enterprising Ph.D. student meanders through the old files and photos and compiles a true history of that area bordering West Washington, Regent and South Park. For those who can't wait there is always the Greenbush Cultural Tour website as well as well as the 32 page pamphlet entitled "The Spirit of Greenbush" which can be borrowed from the Madison Public Library.

I've set this blog up for several reasons. One, I think it's really cool. I can pontificate and bloviate and hyperventilate about subjects I know nothing about and be part of the blogging "in crowd" -- even though the "in crowd" now numbers in the tens of millions.

Secondly, I plan to place online all my concepts, proposals, and show ideas now languishing on my hard drive. It does me no good to keep them hidden, locked away in some digital attic like the first wife in Jane Eyre. I've spent most of my adult life in children's television programming as part of a team developing some great shows like X-MEN, BATMAN, SPIDERMAN,and GOOSEBUMPS along with some terrible ones like...well never mind. Companies are disappearing. Markets are shrinking. Consolidate or die. The motto is no longer 54-40 or fight. It's go global before going postal.

These live-action and cartoon ideas are open to anyone who wants to read them. Don't worry. The PDF files are not fifty page behemoths, the likes of which I read by the carload when I was both a development executive and network programmer. Those days are long gone. Today, we are all dues-paying members of the ADD society or paid in full subscribers to short-term attention span theater. So they are short, sweet, and hopefully enjoyable.

Am I scared of being ripped off? No: They're all copyrighted. I’m more frightened of a committed relationship than intellectual property theft. I suppose villains can abscond with my concepts, call them their own, and make zillions of dollars in licensing and merchandising off of them. But this is a sadistic game. Doing that would deprive producers of opportunities for kicking me around and forcing me to rewrite everything a dozen times. Just like I used to do.

By exploiting my ideas this way, I can remain out of the room and forestall watching executives fall asleep, play with their Blackberries, yawn, spill coffee on themselves, put on make-up, receive calls from frantic nannies, boyfriends,and upper level management. I would no longer need to correct anyone hailing me as either Seymour or Stanley because my first name, like the city in Australia, is so difficult to pronounce.

I started in children’s programming when there were but three broadcast networks. I am thankful for this occupation, for it has allowed me to remain an emotional twelve-year old for much of my adult existence. Is it any wonder that my favorite book is Peter Pan? Friends will definitely attest to that -- and then not invite me anywhere for fear I will embarrass them in restaurants where cutlery is mandatory.

I still view the world as a 7th grader, forever chased down high school hallways by a principal out to lock me away in the big house for crimes no one has any proof I committed. Accusing me of exploding the boy's toilets with a cache of M80's. Now why would I do that? Probably for the same reason I know a simpleton stupid enough to see what would happen when a warm tongue licks a street lamp pole in 20 below temperatures.