Jeff Bridges: The Dude Abides

If you get a chance, check out the PBS American Masters special Jeff Bridges: The Dude Abides. Bridges spoke at the Television Critics Association press tour and he was so genuine and funny. I’m a big fan and thought he was fantastic in “True Grit” and “Crazy Heart” and of course “The Big Lebowski,” which is one of my favorite movies of all time.

In the special, he talks about making films like Lebowski and “The Last Picture Show,” which is great, but the part I really liked was when he talked about his mother. She wrote books for her children documenting their lives. He reads from his in the show and he seems to really appreciate all that she did for him. The entire special is really well done.

It airs on PBS Wednesday, at 8 p.m. on the new PBS affiliate KOCE.

Watch the full episode. See more American Masters.

A Little More Conversation, A Little Less Action

Here is how a typical conversation with my husband goes:
Him: “Do you think we should put the good desktop computer in the boys room?”
Me: “No. Absolutely not. They already spend too much time on their ancient computer where they can hardly do anything.”Of course, we have a dispute about what was said. His version included me saying “Yes, dear.”

My boys are 4 and 6 and, I feel, too young to have 24/7 access to the computer (other than the ancient, painfully slow computer they had before). My 6 year old is about a month away from being smarter than I am and I’m sure he’ll be able to deal with those pesky parental controls by the time he’s 7. His cousin could take a computer apart and put it back together by the time she was in the 6th grade.

So of course on Friday evening I come home to find the computer set up in my boys’ room.

I couldn’t argue much because the husband did this while I was out to dinner, the second night in a row I stayed out past 10, and he watched the kids. I left the arguing to the next day.

I normally don’t worry too much about Internet security so when Yahoo! Motherboard chose the topic for its bloggers, I didn’t think I would have anything to talk about. Well, thanks to the husband, now I do.

It’s not that I’m consumed with fears that someone trolling on the internet will find my kids and want to chat. I’m more worried about what they will consume while I’m trying to get a little work done. They love to watch videos. I want them to play educational games with Sid the Science Kid on PBS Kids, but instead they “found” (which means my husband showed them) the Lego site and now they watch videos on Lego Star Wars and Batman.

These are not horrible for kids (in fact, they are awesome), but I don’t think it’s good  for the 4-year-old to see so much violence even if it’s acted out by Legos. They play Lego Star Wars and Batman on the Wii and now Xbox (which, for full disclosure, was given to me last week by Xbox).

Back to the husband. I mentioned to him that I thought the 4-year-old was being exposed to too much violence. I told him that I felt strongly that the games and videos were having a negative effect on our younger son. Sports games are fine, but no more Lego games until they’re older.

“Okay,” he said. Saturday he took them out to buy some games for the new Xbox. Of course, they came back with a Spiderman game (and Toy Story 3). I wish I had a parental control for my husband.

PBS and Food, Inc.

I have always loved food, both eating it and making it. But it wasn’t until I read Eric Schlosser’s book “Fast Food Nation” that I really started thinking about what I put in my body. Now that I have a family, I think about it all the time.

Schlosser was on a panel Saturday discussing the PBS (POV) documentary “Food, Inc.” about the frightening way food is produced in this country. He was joined by Michael Pollan, who wrote “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and the new book, “Food Rules.”

I was able to meet Schlosser and Pollan and in true form, I was a complete spaz about it. When I saw Schlosser walking out of a PBS interview after the panel I shouted, “Fast Food Nation changed my life.”

And it had, somewhat. Unfortunately, not enough.

I talked to Pollan about a dilemma I had last week. I was at the store and I looked at the price of a half pint of organic blueberries and compared it to the 1 pound pack of conventional blueberries. The 1.5 pound was only slightly more expensive than the much smaller organic package, but my kids could have blueberries for a week (or as long as they lasted). Conventional won. According to Pollan, that was not a sound decision. He was very nice about it, though.

He said to look up the Dirty Dozen organic , which is a list of foods that you should absolutely buy organic. I already knew that blueberries were on the list.

These are hard decisions to make, especially for people who are on a budget (or are cheap). I asked him what people should do if they can’t afford to make dinner every night and fast food is so inexpensive. It’s actually cheaper to make meals at home, he said. It’s just that many people can’t invest the time.

He had some good tips such as, don’t buy cereal that changes the color of the milk and avoid “edible food-like substances.” In his own life, he and his wife and son cook their food and don’t buy processed foods.

The most frightening thing the panel talked about was how food producers are selling the inferior meat that the fast food chains don’t want to American public schools. It’s especially scary when you think about the fast food hamburger, which is mainly made up of byproducts of beef that are also used as pet food.

I don’t eat a lot of hamburgers, so the other item raised by that panel that I found personally disturbing is that Americans are eating 500 calories more a day since 1980. That’s a lot of calories and a lot of pounds.

There was some good news. What are the fast food chains that Schlosser said are ok to go to? In N’ Out and Chipotle. It turns out that we do have somewhere to go in the course of a long day when I don’t feel like cooking.

Dinosaur Train

The countdown has begun in our house for the premier of PBS Kids’ Dinosaur Train . I received a screener of it a few months ago and it’s been the #1 show request in our house. It’s genius – dinosaurs and trains – what could be better for two little boys?

The show mixes animated stories about a dinosaur family’s adventures traveling around on a train with segments of a paleontologist talking about life science. The best part is hearing my son walking around using the word hypothesis correctly in a sentence.

Dinosaur Train airs Monday, but be prepared to have the theme song running through your head all day long.