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The Weekend Eudemon

Eric Scheske has had a good twelve hours. No baby yet, but he killed seven beers in anticipation.

Also, Vermont, Bucknell, and Villanova all won yesterday. Eric drafted all three in an NCAA basketball team auction earlier this week. Their victories have advanced Eric's dreams of establishing his own country off the coast of the United States, using his wife and offspring as the original inhabitants, with a handful of chosen mates for the older children. Of course, a few more upsets like the Bucknell one, and the new country won't qualify for third-world foreign aid, which was one of the driving motives for founding the country in the first place. Eric planned to run the country with a paternalistic iron fist, thus establishing something akin to Socialism, with the result that the economy would stagnate, and he would have created his own little black hole for U.S. tax dollars. He'd skim 20% off the top and filter cash to his children who treat him with the most love and respect.

While quaffing the lucky seven, he also enjoyed the good conversation of two friends and his father, Mel, who's always a well of wellness and stories. He recounted his trip to Fred's Lounge in Mamou, Louisiana in the early 1980s. Fred's Lounge is in the heart of Cajun country. Mel had read about it in The Cajuns, a hardback volume Eric remembers seeing among his father's thousands of books since he was ten. When he arrived there with his wife Rita (Eric's Mom) before 8:00 a.m., they were dubious about the book's claim that the place would really shake by 9:00. By 8:30, the dive was filling up. A traditional Cajun band (no drums, just a triangle) started playing, and by 9:00, the drinks were flowing and Cajun folks were whooping. They made Mel an honorary Cajun and encouraged him to come along to the next Cajun stop after Fred's closed up at 1:00 in the afternoon. Since Mel visited, the place has been featured by a number of national media outlets, so it's become gentrified, but Mel was there when it was real. For those who think reading is a waste of time, they should remember Mel in Mamou. If Mel hadn't heard of it until Charles Kuralt featured it in the 1990s, he'd have been just another tiresome tourist who ruins the authentic by bringing their unauthentic selves with them.

Eric also received some kind words from a reader of the Crux blog (to which Eric is a contributor). Eric had posted a version of "Everipody's Talkin' At Me" (TWE, 2/25/2005) to the Crux blog. A reader wrote to Bobby Maddex of Crux: "Could you tell Eric Scheske that I absolutely loved his piece . . . ? Ever since we've removed porches as a "required edifice" in building homes, we have fewer and fewer "real" opportunities to relate and bond with our neighbors (outside work and shopping...). And if more sincere Christians spent time at bars (not getting drunk of course) relating with our neighbors, perhaps we could help make a real difference in the lives of people who may need it the most. It's for this exact reason that I don't get particularly excited about creating 'Christian' venues for coffee, entertainment, etc. Doesn't this just contribute to the ongoing problem of individualism, isolationism and 'sub-culturating' that seems to be spreading like wildfire? I'd hate to think of The Church as just another sub-culture! Keep up the great writing."

Eric doesn't receive much fan mail (the hate/fan mail ratio typically runs 2-to-1). It's appreciated, though not encouraged. Vanity is a terrible thing. It's one of the few forms of self-regard that can't be mitigated by beer. As Eric has written elsewhere, "beer is a Taoist-like drink that enables the drinker to obtain a small amount of inebriation that shrinks the self and enables the objective goodness of things to shine through the soul." Vanity, however, tends to rear its ugly head while drinking, thus, for instance, making Eric's ugly head look pretty to him.

Children's Book Follow-Up
In response to our post about books for children (March 14th), an astute reader sends along this note: "They left out the Black Stallion series? And Chronicles of Prydain? For shame."

She also sent this small warning: "I do have a caution about Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys. The recurrent theme in both is that children should ignore the instructions of adults in authority and they will prove themselves to be smarter than the grown-ups."

The Punchy Journal
. . . I haven't found the Internet a good source of accidental education. I'm not sure why, but maybe it's because most of the stuff you find is too flippant or too untrustworthy.

I suspect there's also something wrong with the electronic medium. Accidental education is undertaken with patience. The Internet is undertaken with anticipation and an odd sort of tension: there's always something else (links) calling you away from what you're reading, so you never revel in the present page.

I don't purport to understand it; I've just experienced it.

The TV is also a poor source for accidental education. Sure, there might be a little accidental education in that box, but since the average person can read in five minutes the total amount of information conveyed in a thirty minute documentary, there's very little education in general, much less accidental education.

Don't get me wrong. I don't think TV is good for education, but that doesn't mean I don't watch it.

Far from it.

I dig it. There are few things better than drinking at the bar with my buddies, then coming home and flopping in a comfortable chair and looking at all the entertainment: Over sixty stations, all doing their best to entertain me, and many doing a pretty good job of it. Even the lame channels, like the shopping networks, are worth a quick peek in the off-hand chance they'll be selling something cool or bizarre. And it's all sitting there in my family room, already paid for.

But TV does make me nervous. Always has. There's something bad about the medium.

You ever notice that most everyone tells their friends that they don't watch much TV? They could watch four hours a day, but they'll tell other that they don't watch much.

And I don't think they're intentionally lying.

But they are probably what the media maven Marshall McLuhan described as "technological idiots": individuals who use media but are oblivious to the effects that the media has on them.

I tend to think we need another McLuhan today. Why? In general, because of all the new forms of electronic entertainment.

But also because of what I've seen in the past five years on-line. In fact, what I've seen on-line–in myself and others–are technological idiots unwittingly affected by the Internet and e-mail. . .

Eric Scheske

Eric Scheske