Friday, January 16, 2009

Everything Bad is Good for You (And sometimes things that are good for you aren’t so bad after all)

I thought of this headline because last night Jim Ott interviewed Steven Johnson, author of Everything Bad is Good for You, a book that argues that popular entertainment like video games, reality TV, and other diversions that we literary types like to think are mind-numbing wastes of times are actually—get this—beneficial to our problem solving skills and other important cognitive abilities! Thank you, Steven! I feel less guilty as a parent already!

Jim was interviewing this incredibly smart, (also not bad on the eyes!) New York Times best-selling author about his latest book, The Invention of Air, (from’s product description) “the story of Joseph Priestley—scientist and theologian, protégé of Benjamin Franklin, friend of Thomas Jefferson—an eighteenth-century radical thinker who played pivotal roles in the invention of ecosystem science, the discovery of oxygen, the founding of the Unitarian Church, and the intellectual development of the United States." Wow!

I won’t ruin the suspense by telling you about the interview…You’ll have to tune in to TV30 during the month of February at 6:30 AM, 1:00 PM and 9:30 PM Monday through Friday to see it for yourself.

I also thought of this headline because when my 13-year-old daughter got home from school today, I asked her to take the dog for a walk. Complaints ensued as they typically do when you ask a kid of this age to do anything other than lick the bowl for a bunch of brownies you are baking.

“Oh, come on. It will be good for you,” I implored.

“Why is it that everything that is good for you I don’t like,” she slumped. “Like vegetables.”

“Fruit is good for you. And you like fruit. Blueberries are great for you. Lots of antioxidants! And you LOVE blueberries!”

“But which is better for you, fruit or vegetables?”

“They’re the same good for you.” Brief reflective pause. “Although vegetables probably have fewer calories.”

“See? I’m right!”

And it got me to thinking about how we have this idea in our heads that things that are good for you are bland, boring, obligatory—generally stuff we don’t want to do. And, ok, that is sometimes the case.

But, I’ll tell you one thing that is good for you that is more like eating fruit than vegetables. Something that is thought-provoking, intellectually stimulating, fodder for small talk at cocktail parties or PTA meetings, and sometimes even fun! Watching In a Word!

For over seven years now, In A Word has been interviewing local and international authors of fiction and non-fiction, many of them New York Times bestselling authors (!) and talking to local people about their thoughts and ideas and passions about books. We’re like a literary salon, coming straight to your TV, featuring your friends and neighbors. And we’re on many, many times (at least 60) month! Even if you don’t have a Tivo and you have a social schedule like Paris Hilton, you are bound to have one of those 60 times when you are clicking the remote, looking something other than a repeat of The Real Housewives of Orange County to watch.

So I hope you will tune in. Enjoy. Give us feedback. Let us know what you like, what books you want to see as future bookclub picks, submit essays for our A Few More Words segment, complain about my hair (ok, that last one was for my mother.) Anyway, we would love to hear from you, and love your ideas for the show.

And, by the way, I ended up walking the dog. And it was wonderful.


Keely said...

Cool beginning -- I'll have to tag you on my blog!

Amy M said...

Now that we know my favorite vices chocolate and red wine are good for you, I am now a firm believer in Everything Bad is Good for You! You have a wonderful show...I do need to figure out how to get my TIVO set for it. Great blog, Kathy.

Cam said...

Great, Kath! Better than I expected Can't wait to see more. I'll tag you on my blog and site, too. Have a few minor suggestions I'll share separately, too, including a "coming up" list, and a post style/length idea -C

Cam said...

Oops. That last comment didn't come out the way I meant it to!This blog is going to be a wonderful resource for the community and readers everywhere. What I love about this is that you're taking personal, real-life, anecdotes and tying them to the books that you feature on "In a Word." Keep it up. Pretty soon Amazon -- not to mention the publishers -- will be tagging you.

Kathy Cordova said...

Thanks, Keely, Amy and Cam!

Amy, isn't that cool about red wine and chocolate? 60 Minutes even did a segment on Sunday about how great and anti-aging red wine is for you. But I think they reported that you'd have to drink like a thousand glasses a day to get the full effects!

she said...

write on! & congratulations!

i've been looking forward to a tv30 in a word blog

for sneak previews,
behind the scenes stories

and you deliver!

remain a big fan of your show
-and will be a big fan of your blog too

"cheers!" to you, jim, tv30's awesome crew, the new blog and new year!

love, ~s.