Wednesday, August 31, 2005

College Rankings

It's a fascinating phenomenon, the ranking of colleges. U.S. News & World Report has turned this phenomenon into a cash cow by publishing annually a ranking of the top American undergraduate institutions. What a distinctly American thing to do. We can't just have a general assessment of where things are, like in other countries. For example, Cambridge has no inherent "ranking score" attached to it, though everyone knows that it's an elite institution. No, it's the frothy Americans with their endless competitive games who must tell one another whose pedigree is best. We who rank cars, microwaves, baseball teams, and the like must of course score those institutions that forever carry our affection, command our dollars, and augment our resumes.

But how much do these rankings really matter, you ask? Some are going to scoff about them and say that many don't pay them any mind. That may be true for some, but for many, myself included, rankings are quite important. When I applied to schools, one of the first places I looked was U.S. News. Now, that's not all bad, necessarily. One need not be dominated by rankings, and they can be a useful tool to determine school's strength, if an inexact one. But one can also be motivated to pore over them by sinful pride. I'm sure that was a good part of my interest, regrettably. And yet I must say that even now I still check.

The very idea that you can rank an institution--such a grand entity, in some ways difficult to get one's arms around everything--is just great. As said above, it's amusingly American. "What's the best city, Bob?" "One sec, Ron...ummmm...Chicago!" "Gee, thanks, Bob!" And there it is. Chicago is the best city. Well, we can all see the amusing nature of such a ranking, and yet we are also drawn to such things. That's all on this one--I've got to go purchase the top-ranked microwave--it's unanimous.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Why it's Weird to Be a Southern Baptist

I am from Maine. Born, bred, and steeped in Vacationland, as our license plates so eloquently sum up the homeland. I grew up in a Conservative Baptist church with little affiliation to outside bodies, and have since become a Southern Baptist. All of which is very interesting.

Things that make being a Southern Baptist a strange affair
1) The whole Disneyland boycott. I feel as though my more intellectual friends will simply laugh at me for it. Thankfully, most people my age didn't seem to even notice it.
2) The Southern Baptist way of life. As one would expect them to be, many Southern Baptists carry with them a distinctly Southern flair. They are friendly, outgoing, not afraid to speak their mind, and less immediately concerned with the way others view them. All this in contradistinction to Northernism, which is reserved, polite, internal, and concerned with appearances.
3) The traditions. For example, Southern Baptists hold a massive Convention every year, a gathering that is part religious festival, part Christian Congress, part homecoming, and part potluck. An interesting combination, one in which I have yet to feel at home.

Things that make being a Southern Baptist a decidedly good thing
1) The seminary program. Southern Baptists originally pooled their money in part to set up seminaries at which young men could inexpensively prepare for the ministry. This was a brilliant, if simple, step. Now, lots of young guys who are somewhat like me can receive quality training for the cost of three weeks at a high-level secular institution.
2) The missions program. Southern Baptists currently have about 5,000 missionaries on the field. That's an awesome number. I love the heart Southern Baptists have for missions.
3) The rising generation of young and able leaders. Dr. Mark Dever, Dr. Al Mohler, Dr. Russ Moore and others are emerging as leaders in the broader evangelical culture and teaching Christians how to think about themselves and others. This is a good thing. The church kind of fell silent in the mid-twentieth century on the broader culture and also failed to critique itself. That is now happening.

Those are some thoughts. I can't say that I now listen to the Gaithers, and I may not ever hold an office, but for several key reasons I'm now happy to be a Southern Baptist. Just don't ask me not to go to Disneyland.

Friday, August 26, 2005

A Powerful Sermon on Religious Liberalism

One of the titanic figures of Southern Baptist history is a diminuitive man who packed a powerful pulpit punch. Wallie Amos Criswell, or W.A. as he came to be known, was for half a decade the pastor of Dallas's First Baptist Church, one of the cornerstone churches of the Southern Baptist Convention. Interestingly, of all the churches in America, it is the congregation that Billy Graham denoted his own many years ago, though he rarely attended services there. Criswell entered the FBC pulpit after George Truett, another SBC giant, passed away in the early 1940s. Over the next five decades, Criswell crafted a ministerial career marked by expository preaching, progressive administration, and Convention influence. Sometimes controversial, often polemical, always notable, Criswell stands as an example to conservative Christian pastors in many respects, chief among them his fiery love for preaching the Word. I don't agree with everything Criswell did or stood for, but it is hard not to appreciate his faithfulness to the ministerial task.

Criswell gave a number of seminal sermons in his career, but none are more powerful than "Whether We Live or Die," the capstone sermon of the 1985 Southern Baptist Convention. Given at a time of thunderstorm conflict, Criswell struck a major blow for the conservative cause by sketching out the course a liberal denomination would travel. The way, said Criswell in his powerful bass, was that of death. There would be no deviation; nothing would deter those who have lost the Scripture as their guide from their plunge. You can listen to the sermon on the Criswell Foundation's website. A point of particular interest to me from the message is Criswell's narration of the story of Crawford Howell Toy. Toy was a Southern Seminary professor in the 1870s who imbibed elements of liberalism into his theology. His story is a tragic one, as all are that involve the taking of poison, however small the dose. The video is a bit shaky, the setting may be foreign, but the message is piercingly clear: stay the course on the narrow way. Nothing less than everything is at stake.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Back to the Dugout With You, Frist

Those keeping an eye on political headlines recently will have seen the news that Bill Frist, Senate majority leader, is pondering a run for president in 2008. Frist is a talented man, with a medical degree, popularity among his peers, and ability to speak with eloquence and clarity. But a president, at least a president of the United States, he is not. He can be president of the Rotary Club, and that will be just fine with many. But president of America? I think not.

Why do I say this with the confidence I do? Because Frist's views do not line up with a key group of voters in Republican circles: evangelical Christians. He's just come out in support of stem cell research, a move that has put him directly in the ire stream of evangelicals, who are currently fighting with every shard of tooth and wit to prevent the practice. Strike one. He also failed to keep fellow Republicans from breaking out of party lines on the judicial filibuster issue. Seven "escaped," making their own power move and leaving Frist looking inept as a leader. Strike two. Despite these events, Frist seems to think that he will garner the evangelical vote in 2008. As an evangelical, I think that I have some insight into how they think. Let me say this about my fellow "fish-heads." We do not forget easily, and we do not tolerate violations of the conservative social code. Frist is kidding himself if he doesn't think many evangelicals have written him off altogether with his position on stem cells and his leadership missteps. These are high stakes games, and in the culture wars, every action matters, and every inch covers a mile. The lesson? Sometimes, friends, you don't need a third strike to call someone out.

Friday, August 19, 2005

A Powerful Video: "Can I Live"

I had heard some about rapper Nick Cannon's "Can I Live" video recently in the press, but hadn't seen the video until today. The video portrays an adult man, played by Nick Cannon, going back in time to talk to his mother, who is pregnant with Nick and contemplating an abortion. It's a true story, and it's powerful. Here's the link to the site. You'll note the need for Windows Media Player or Quicktime to watch the video.

The media has chafed a bit at the video. The Boston Globe called for Cannon, who calls himself neither pro-choice or pro-life, to out himself as a pro-lifer and own up to his propagandizing ways. Cannon has not done so. I find the Globe's response fascinating, because it speaks as if one cannot make art without making a political statement and in fact be trying, first and foremost, to make a political statement. Cannon's song could well be made with intention to spread the pro-life message. But it is also entirely possible that he made the video to thank his mother for giving him life, and have that sentiment unattached to some greater political motive. Shame on the Globe for crying "disingenuous" on Cannon. I suppose that shows just how un-neutral much of the media is. The hue and cry about the video can go on, or it can die, which it likely will in short order. All the while, I'm enjoying this song, and thanking the Lord that, as with Nick Cannon, He let me live.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

On Flying

If you are a loyal consumed reader, then you've noticed that the posting has been sporadic of late. I'm predicting that this has caused you some distress, that you've perhaps had to retreat to a quiet place, maybe do some breathing exercises, perhaps consume massive amounts of food that is bad for you. I understand all that; in fact, I think I've done all of the preceding lately. I retreated to a quiet place, being Maine; consumed massive amounts of food while at home, including Mom's fabulous spaghetti and her delightful blueberry cake; and done--okay, so I haven't done any breathing exercises. I could have if I wanted to, though.

Actually, wait a minute. I've flown four times in the last month. It's been a little crazy. And during those flights, I did some breathing exercises, albeit very restrained ones. I inhaled air to keep my ears from popping. So there you go. That said, I found that though these exercises brought me some measure of comfort, they did little to affect my greater reality, namely, that I was on a huge beast of burden, my life in the hands of a couple of strangers, my actions directed by their commands. That reality is a sobering one, as much so as the pre-flight safety "instructions" are amusing. Why are they amusing, you ask? Because the attendants do very funny things with their hands and arms that I cannot follow. For example, I'm glad the planes I flew on didn't go down, cause I certainly wasn't ready to manipulate the oxygen-provider thingy. The attendant demonstrated the needed action so quickly the naked eye didn't follow. I also enjoy the drafting of passengers to help in case the emergency exits were needed. Actual exchange between stewardess and passenger: "Are you able and willing to serve if needed, sir? Yes, able and willing." Reminiscent of a commander sturdying his troops in the moment of battle, the attendant revealed her iron resolve to fulfill emergency exit protocol. Then she handed out little pretzels, and wouldn't give me a granola bar. Hmmph. Neither willing, nor able, I suppose.

The last thing I'll mention about my recent flying experience relates to the landing of planes. At that moment, when the Southwest puddle-jumper bounces on the tarmac, one is reminded that the plane is not an organic entity, dispensing little pretzels and smiles at a button's pressing. Rather, the plane is a metallic animal, foreign, unpredictable, capable of killing you. Kind of like the tiger at the zoo. It looks nice, and calm, and then--BOOM--you're without an appendage. On planes, mortality is your constant seat companion. That's cool, cause whenever God wants me to go, I'm able and willing to go. That is one pledge that I can definitely keep.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

On the Wedding of One's Sister

I've now been a part of three weddings this summer. Let me say this right off. It's a weird thing to have your close friends married off. There are numerous levels of weirdness to that event. Your friend, who you've goofed off with, cried with, argued with...married? Hitched? Tied up? Odd. All that pales, however, to seeing your sister walk the aisle. Especially your little sister. It was truly an interesting experience today as my only sibling, Rachel, married Lester Burgess.

Interesting first because I always thought as the older brother that I would get married first. I'm now 24, and she's not even 21, and so I assumed that marriage would happen for me before her. That assumption, however, proved erroneous.

Secondly because it is an interesting thing to see displays of affection from one's sister when you're not used to that sort of thing from her. I don't have much else to say about this. It's just all very odd and weird. What happened to the little girl who used to cut the hair off her Barbies? Who would play Home Run Derby with me--and beat me? Who would rub her hair on the back seat of the car to make it staticky on the way to skiing? Now she's all grown up, and married, and...affectionate. Ewwww. It's only slightly weirder than seeing parental displays of affection. Phew.

Thirdly because, well, just because. She's my sister! Her room sits empty now. She's not going to come in at night and talk to me about life. She's not going to take shopping trips to the mall with me. She's not going to talk to me for hours on end about girls, helping me to figure out the intricate psychology of the feminine mind. Such knowledge leaves me with the feeling you get when you stand still and feel like the entire world is rushing past you. How is everything going so fast? What happened to the littleness of my little sister? Who stole away the life I used to know?

But of course, all this quickly passes, as I know that none of this is by accident, that this is all part of growing up and seeing God work life out in its weirdness and complexity. That's a good thing, even if it leaves me with a little sadness, alot of good memories, and an empty room beside mine.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

When Opinions are Facts: New England's Superiority, Part 1

I've now lived in the Mid-Atlantic states, the Midwest, and New England. I've visited Texas, Minnesota, and Florida. Through my various experiences, I feel that I am competent to make a judgment regarding the quality of New England. This judgment comes quickly to mind, with little reasoning necessary, and so I take comfort that Malcolm Gladwell would approve of its viability. That said, here are several reasons why New England is in fact the eminent region of America.

1) The people are down to earth. Where I'm from in Maine, there's no pretense. There's little posturing. Like the pines in the fall, there's a certain friendliness in the air. Strangers wave to you as you drive by them. Waitresses treat you like family. Perhaps most impressively, New Englanders make fun of themselves. That's one of the defining traits of New England: nobody sits too high in their seat. If they do, they can rest assured they'll come down to size in a matter of time. For the earthy humility of its residents, New England is superior (did you catch the irony here? good for you).

2) The climate is interesting. Unlike other regions, which major in bland, New England's weather supports the wildest tenets of chaos theory. The falls are beautiful and chilled, much to the delight of L.L. Bean. The winters are arctic and full of snow and ice. The springs are tentatively mild, cold at first, just right with time. The summers are also tempered but quite wonderful if you don't mind the occasional fleece at night. In each season, then, you get a different climate at its strength. Anybody other than a wimp would love that. That's right, much of America is wimpy. I said it.

3) The ocean. Oh, the ocean. I have a deep love for the ocean that is temporarily halted. The ocean salts the air, chills the wind, rejuvenates the soul. With the ocean comes the occasional beach. Maine has a number of them, and they are equally wonderful. Ahhh. The ocean.

4) L.L. Bean and Freeport, Maine. This is one of America's premier outlet towns, and I, an outlet connoisseur, can be trusted with that statement. See, the thing about Freeport, Maine is that it combines excellent outlet shopping (Abercrombie for the teenyboppers, J. Crew for the preppy college kids, Nautica for the trendy fortysomethings) with small town feel. It works very well, and it includes L.L. Bean, only one of the coolest stores ever, in the mix. Before you die, whoever you are reading this, go to Freeport, Maine. You will have a wonderful time, I promise.

5) Really good food. I know, I know, you're thinking...Maine? Huh? Don't they have a bunch of lobster and shells and not much else? Not so, my friend. Incredibly, I much prefer the food of Maine to that of Washington, DC, our nation's capital. Consider this: in Brunswick, Maine, where I went to college, there were three good Thai restaurants, two good Indian restaurants, a German restaurant, an Irish pub/eatery, and several high-price restaurants serving fine fare. All of these places were excellent. Maine has very, very good food, my friend, and you who snicker are losing out.

I started this list with three things, and I can easily think of five more reasons why Maine, err, New England is superior. This list will continue tomorrow, much to the chagrin of all other American regions.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Even in Reality, That's Weird

Caught sight a few weeks ago of a fascinating tv program called Laguna Beach airing on MTV. The show, the latest creation from the lab of reality tv, blends drama and real life by choosing real Laguna Beach to teenagers to be filmed in both their normal routines and certain "dramatic situations." For one who enjoys reality tv when it's done well, this show has a draw to it, a certain appeal, perhaps because of the youth of the characters. They're all pre-20 and going through the ups and downs that attractive Laguna Beach teens go through: you know, having splashy pool parties, catfighting over boys, and posturing for hours on end. The show provides a window into the life of the average attractive American team, and predictably, it's not pretty. There's little sense of something greater to life, no moral accountability save the social codes of teenagers, and surprisingly little parental involvement.

It seems that youth is increasingly squeezed of its innocence in this age. The bar measuring social and physical interaction with the opposite sex, for example, drops further and further until it's clear that I as a 24 year-old man am a greenhorn in a world of fourteen year-old veterans of "hooking up" and such things. Life without God has always meant a life of flirtation with the darker side for teens, but I wonder if nowadays college isn't the initiation into license it used to be. One wonders how much teenagers of this generation actually discover when entering college, and how much they simply hone their craft. Either way, the world of Laguna Beach is as interesting--what is a dramatic reality show, anyway?--as it is saddening. MTV shows little deviation from its prior course in producing such a show.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


I miss swimming. Growing up, swimming with synonomous with existing, or so I thought. You ate, you read books, you played tag, and you swam. That was the substance of childhood. In fact, from childhood-tinged glasses, it was the substance of summer life. Summer life was uncomplicated, and swimming, well, swimming was grand. As a child, it seemed we swam for entire days. The schedule went something like, leave the house at 11am, get to the beach several minutes after that, play, swim, build sand castles, have lunches, play more, swim more, have snacks, then go home, baked like a little four foot piece of toast. Those were the days, centered around water, glorious water, cold as the freezer, deep as the upstairs closet, fun as Star Wars come to life. Predictably, my friends and I didn't so much swim, per se, we more kicked and splashed and dog paddled and had breathing contests and things of that nature. Frolicking, then, was not a thing; it was the only thing.

These days, swimming has a new meaning. For a fitness conscious twentysomething, swimming is about exercise, and calorie burning, and all these silly distractions that didn't exist when I was eight. Swimming then signified uninterrupted goofing off in a day characterized by recreation. Swimming now stands for a quick break in the midst of a compressed day, a quick dip calculated to rush water over scattered thoughts and tested nerves. Swimming then occurred all the time. Swimming now occurs almost never. All this stems from a move from New England to the Midwest that has essentially excised swimming from my existence. That is--until this week.

In each of the past two days, I've trekked over to a friend's home (can't mention the Mather's name here) and swam for around an hour with my mother and father. Put simply, these swims have taken me back to the days of splashing and sand castles, of swimming as fun, not program. There is something delicious about stopping all the day's activity and jumping in cool water, something that says "this is good. this is right." I've felt that keenly, though I did have one of those sudden brushes with one's mortality yesterday. Mom, Dad, and I decided to swim a ways away to a giant rock about 800 feet away from us. Midway there, with Dad well ahead of me, and Mom well in back of me, I found myself pretty tuckered out. Now, I knew I could float on my back and be fine. Mortality showed itself not in actual reality but in potential; if I did sink right then and there, it would have taken a miracle to save me. Such moments don't come all that often, but when they come, they come suddenly, and bring a startled alertness with them.

I did survive the trip, and did it again today. In going back to my swimming roots, I'm remembering those childhood scenes, and enjoying them. However, I'd be remiss if I didn't say I was pleasantly surprised by the evident aerobic effect of the activity. Past meets present, and the two join together, even as I leave the lake not four feet tall, but 5'6, still looking much as baked as a piece of toast.

Monday, August 08, 2005

On Being Home

After six weeks in Louisville, and four in Evanston, Illinois, I'm now at home in Machias, Maine. It's been a great summer for many reasons. Much growth has been had in the past few months, growth that only come from stretching oneself, trying new things, and generally experiencing the ups and downs of life as a twentysomething.

But enough about all that. It's time to give a few ruminations on being home in Machias, where I'll be for the next week, and in which place my chief responsibility is relaxation. Tough life, this.

Prior to my return, I hadn't thought much about how involved the process of coming home is. I flew for four hours with one transfer from Louisville to Boston, took a 2.5 hour bus ride from Boston to Portland, ME, was driven from Portland to Rockland, and then again from Rockland to Machias. That's alot of sitting, and alot of luggage carrying, and all that makes for alot of shoulder aching. But the pain disappears when one returns to the motherland, the blessed country, the soil of our forefathers. What a joy it was to be back in New England, desperately racing around Logan Airport, hearing the Massachusetts accents, feeling the slightly chilled New England evening air. I almost sniffled at the sight of many things--downtown Boston, the Concord Trailways bus; even the Big Dig sites had me nearly dabbing at my eyes. Things only got more wonderful, if more isolated, upon arrival in Maine. The ocean, a friend nearly forgotten, welcomed me with its warm sands and crisp breeze. The lake, at a friend's house, wrapped me in a quiet embrace as I hacked my way through a breaststroke. The lawn, wide and green, invited me to chop through it, which went quite well until I managed to nearly destroy the lawnmower (don't ask; it involved the oil cap, daydreaming, and much smoke). In all these things Maine welcomed me, hugged me, and my heart hugged it heartily back.

There is much sweetness to be found in the resumption of old patterns of life. At home for a week, Mom cooks her sumptuous spaghetti sauce, her indulgent blueberry cake, and offers to do a wash or two for me. Such kindness comes through exchange of labor, naturally, but this is a happy trade. After months of study and research, it's a pleasure to mow the lawn. There's also the pleasantness enjoyed in time spent with siblings. Mine, whose wedding has brought me home, is a skilled hairstylist who pressed me to "highlight" my hair shortly after my arrival. Dutifully complying, I was subjected to the process, and am now a step closer in my quest to appear as California-ish as possible. The event gave much opportunity for catch-up conversation, enjoyable because my sister understands the feminine mind like few do and because, well, I love her. (isn't this blog just dripping?)

Numerous conversations with Mom and Dad round out the happiness of being home and remind me of the high-school years, when I was free to laugh and ponder and puzzle with my parents on a daily basis. I miss that closeness much these days, but time must pass, and with it must go old ways of life. Nonetheless, every visit home is special. It's a wonderful thing to grow up, mature, and be able to be friends with parents and siblings, once the choicest of pubescent enemies. Add to all this the hilarity of five--yes, five, it's something of a problem--cats tearing all over everywhere and you've got a really fun return visit.

Beyond fun, however, is rest, refreshment, and the savoring of a week at home with family. Times like these are precious, underappreciated in their unfolding, and gone almost before they start, though remembered long after they end.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

A Moving Speech From...Baseball?!

American professional sports are not known for producing quotable masterpieces. Sure, there's the occasional Yogi Berra, a man who bears a capacity for wit and wisdom that tugs at the general public. Far more common, however, is the athlete seemingly trained at the academy of the catch-phrase. You know the type. Their sagacity usually stems from a beautifully crafted reporter's question, something like, "Incredible comeback, sports star. How did you guys manage to mount that one?" Generally, this bombast of intellect prompts a response like so: "Well, capaciously minded reporter, coach just told us to take it up another level. So we gave an obscenely high percentage of effort and came out ahead in the end." At this point, one's mind usually struggles to compute the exchange. Just what exactly did he mean by "another level?" How am I supposed to figure that statement, metaphysically? And general confusion ensues, soothed only by some inane beer commercial.

In a strange bit of fate, though, some of America's least loquacious folks stand side-by-side in their profession with some of the most eloquent: baseball sportswriters. George Will, Roger Angell, and Peter Gammons (pictured above left with Red Sock Carl Yastrzemski) stand out as some of the most gifted writers to ever interpret the box score. Recently Gammons, a New England guy, was elected to the Hall of Fame as a sportswriter of uncommon distinction. Required to give a speech for the occasion, Gammons spoke with elegance of his love for the sport. I include it on consumed because the writing is so good, so moving, that most anyone could appreciate it. Here's an excerpt from the transcript. Gammons is recounting a touching story about two Angels players who, in the midst of World Series chaos, remembered an old friend.

"If any of you are familiar with the Cape Cod League you might have heard of Arnie Allen, a special needs gentleman who for 40 years was a batboy for the Falmouth Commodores. He was diagnosed with brain cancer in the summer of 2002. 72 hours later a duffel bag ofAngels paraphanalia arrived in Falmouth, courtesy of two Falmouth players, Darin Erstad (pictured right) and Adam Kennedy. Of course the Angels went on to the world series in 2002 and after winning one incredible sixth game coming from five nothing deficit in the eighth inning. Before game seven Erstad and Kennedy pulled me aside before they went out to stretch, they told me, we know you are going to be speaking at the Hall of Fame in deductions in two weeks on the Cape. They said in unison, "as you speak, could you do us a favor, Arnie will be there probably for the last time. Could you just tell him that Darin and Adam Kennedy said, we are thinking of him before they went out and won the world series?"

You can imagine what happened. The Angels won. Pretty powerful stuff, isn't it? Stories like this made Gammons' speech one of the more memorable address I've heard lately. They also remind one that sports, while not ends in themselves, can reflect some of the happiest aspects of life--fun, teamwork, caring. Gammons' speech has many more such stories. Check out the full transcript of it here.

Monday, August 01, 2005

It's True: Reality TV is Fascinating

I admit it. I've always been a sucker for a good reality tv show. Not that there have been that many. MTV kicked the whole deal off with "The Real World," which began airing in my junior high years. From the moment I first saw it, I was fascinated, and for a number of reasons. Here's a few.

1) The people. MTV handpicked a small group of VAPs (very attrative people) in filling the cast list. This was a dynamite move, because for some strange reason, humans generally enjoy watching attractive people do, well, just about anything. An obvious reason for this is rooted in attraction to the on-screen characters, however remote they are. But beyond the purely carnal, it seems that even heterosexual people enjoy watching members of their sex do, well, most anything. The bottom line: like leering zoogoers, this society enjoys viewing its physically elite go about the business of life. I guess I'm in that number, which is rather alarming, and slightly disheartening (but generally undeniable).

2) The setup. In placing a number of interesting, attractive, and different people in close quarters, MTV set the stage for drama. Hicks with urbanites, vegans with meat lovers, type Bs with type As. The poles all met on TRW. As one would guess, the results were both explosive and engrossing.

3) The relationships. The setup naturally begat all sorts of romantic relationships. Romantice relationships naturally involve all sorts of drama. She likes him, he likes her, they don't like each other, she plays hard to get, he's going overboard, etc, etc. Here's a thought. Far from existing as base drama, real-life drama is often the most interesting to watch. It's raw, it's revealing, and it's real. Actors act best when they live their material. That's exactly what goes on in TRW. The actors, so to speak, are living their scripts, and the result is potent. It seems that only the top level of actors reach such a mark of reality. It's not surprising, then, that reality tv draws so many. Dramatically speaking, it's actually good.

There are three reasons for the success of TRW, imitated in countless iterations since the early 90s. I would add that I've commented only on the artistic merit of the show. Doubtless, the show has showcased all sorts of nasty behavior I do not support and in fact despise. One could even say that the show has caused some degree of harm in the American home with its version of unbridled sexuality and epicurean attitude. That's the disclaimer. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got some tv to watch, and I'll give you twenty guesses what genre it is.