History Channel tackles “America The Story of Us”

I’m an unabashed history nerd.  I love history, and I’ll admit I’ve had a real chip on my shoulder for the History Channel for the past two years, since they stopped doing history and started running shows like “MonsterQuest”, “UFO Hunters” and “Ice Road Truckers”.  No offense to those shows, I’m sure they’ve got their audiences, but they most certainly are not history, and neither is most of the other content that’s filling the schedule at History.

Its easy to understand why they’ve gone the route they have.  Surely there is a finite market for shows on the Battle of Antietam, or the cumulative affect of the protestant reformation, and yes, even with Dan Brown’s books, we have pretty much exhausted the tales of the Templars.

So it was with an wary eye that I sat down to watch last nights “Amerca The Story of Us”  series.

One first glance, I noticed they played fast and loose.  They mentioned Plymouth, they mentioned Jamestown, then they jumped forward to the decade just prior to the Revolutionary War, which would be akin to jumping forward in history from the First World War until now.  After all, nothing much to see there.

Then I had issue with the obvious high level view.  They had Paul Revere completing his ride to Lexington and Concord, while any self-respecting Bostonian can tell you it was indeed Samuel Prescott that completed the ride, with Paul Revere detained by the British in Lincoln.

It continues that way, jumping from Concord to the Capture of New York.  Southerners will delight in getting nary a mention until Yorktown.

Still, the note at the end of the show wraps it all up nicely.  They will be providing copies to every school in the country.  As such, the show probably hits it’s mark.  A high level summary that may, in it’s fast paced vignettes manage to make in roads into the minds of our youth.

The first episode replays Wed. night and it is my intention to make a special evening out of it in the Cahill house with my 10 and 12 year old daughters *(who will sign in unison the second they see the History Channel logo…).  I encourage you to consider the same.

This isn’t meant as a authoritative history of us, it is meant more as an entre to the history of us, and in that regard, it hits the mark.  We’ll see how my two tweenage critics like it Wed.  In fact, perhaps I’ll let them blog their thoughts here.
Aaron Barnhardt *(my go to tv critic) of The Kansas City Star (and TVBarn.com where I grab his stuff…) summed it up nicely:

What is surprising — not to say disorienting for anyone older than 30 — is how shamelessly History has aimed “America: The Story of Us” at Generation ADD.

But that’s for a reason. The channel’s PR department informs us that History “will for the first time offer a DVD of the entire 12-hour series to every single school and accredited college in America — free of charge.”

He’s spot on there.  It is indeed history for the Generation ADD.  But perhaps that’s just what we need right now.
Maybe this will help me drag the kids to the Pequot Museum this weekend.  😉

A Month Without Blogging…

Madison at Newburyport
Madison at Newburyport

Not my personal choice, but more a relection on how utterly busy I have been.  Some great stuff going on, some not so great, but such is the natural progression of life.

I have an interesting comment from my 11 yo daughter Madison on my about page:

“hi, dad! Whats up? So……can I have an account for All Things Cahill,or the family website,pretty please with 100,000,000,000,000 CHERRYS on top.”

My first knee jerk reaction was pretty much what you’d expect…then I thought about what my objections are:

  • Controlling what she posts – kids don’t generally understand what’s appropriate to share and what is meant to be kept private.
  • It’s my site, and my byline – she might post or do something on my blog that would reflect on me.

After a little thought, I realize that both of these concerns are easily dealt with.  By setting her up as a contributor to the blog, I would have to publish her posts, affording me the chance to read them.  Similarly, if I were to enforce upon her a particular category, I could exclude it from my main page, and force her off onto her own page, something like http://www.allthingscahill.com/madison and if I wanted to, I might even make that page password protected so that I could be sure I knew who was reading her posts.

So, for now, it looks like I’m going to grant her request.  More on this shortly…

In other general news, I have been tweeting a lot of Reel-Time.com under the Twitter handle Reel_Time – and I have found that tweeting as an informational stream for a site is pretty cool.  I’m using CoTweet thanks to Esteban and I’ve found I really like their service.  Hootsuite is similar, and is currently open to the public as well.

Tips for Roadtrips with the Kids – Dadomatic.com

My latest post is up over at Dad-o-matic and this one draws on the experience of my trip to Pennsylvania last week with my kids.  It’s got lots of suggestions I’m betting any parent can put to use to turn the dreaded roadtrip into a cherished memory.  Things like:


  • Games – keep their heads out of books and off the game boy to avoid motion sickness.
    Try things like “Love Bug” where the kid gets points for every Volkswagen Bug they spot, or if faster action is needed, “Beep Jeep” which is on a similar idea, but uses the far more numerous Jeep as the action item.
  • Keep a journal of roadside wildlife – There’s plenty to see, even if some of it is slightly flatter than God originally made it.
  • Download a book – Grab a classic book or two from Audible.com for your iPod and play it over the radio. Discuss it as you go, stopping every chapter or two. You might want to try something like The Swiss Family Robinson which will give everyone in the family someone to identify with.