Thursday, February 17, 2011

An Insight Into My Mind...

About a week ago, I was at lunch with some of my co-workers when the topic of cartoons came up. We spent our lunch reminiscing about which cartoons we watched, which ones have stood the test of time, and other such nonsense. During the conversation, one my co-workers mentioned a site that you could look up various tv shows and commercials based on the decade it was released. He couldn't remember which one it was, though. I did a quick search and found one site, In looking through the list, I found a show that I had COMPLETELY forgot that I watched: 3-2-1 Contact. 

Now, 3-2-1 Contact was a live action tv show that ran on PBS in the early to mid 80s. The show taught scientific principles and how they were applied in the modern world. It was immensely popular (not that I knew that at the time) and ran for about 7 seasons, though to be completely honest, I didn't watch every single episode of the show. But I do remember a lot. My personal favorites were any segments dealing with computers (obviously) and a kid detective segment called "The Bloodhound Gang". 

After reading up on that show, I found another show that I watched as a kid: Mr. Wizard's World. This one aired on Nickelodeon (back when it was a fledgling network and struggling to make a name for itself) and it's success put Nick on the map. The show starred Don Herbert as Mr. Wizard, a science hobbyist, who would have local kids come over and explore basic concepts of science by performing experiments using stuff found around the house.

By this point, my brain had stepped up to the challenge and kicked out a couple of other shows I watched as a kid: Where In The World is Carmen Sandiego based on the series of computer games. That one's pretty famous and you can look it up on your own, dear readers. The real gem for me was a lesser known program called: Square One TV.

Square 1 is another live action series from PBS which taught math concepts using a wide variety of content including sketch comedy, cartoons, MTV-style music videos, serials, and game shows. My personal favorite segments were "MathNet", where two FBI style agent solve crimes using math Dragnet style; "MathMan", a Pac-Man style video game segment where MathMan could only eat things based on a given math concept (like prime numbers); and the ending magic shows with my favorite magician of all time: Harry Blackstone Jr.

I've always thought of myself as kind of a freak. When it came to school, I was always regarded as one of the smartest kids in my classes, earning me such nicknames as "Walking Dictionary" and "Mr. Professor" by the time I was in sixth grade. But, there wasn't really any proof of above average intelligence in my family. And none of them EVER seemed to be able to gather random information, and link it together like I did. This has always lead me to ask: Why? How come I was able to do this?

I've recently come to the realization that the person you are is MADE, not born. Over the course of my life, I've made decisions about what I wanted to expose myself to, what stimulated me, and what kept my interest. While most kids were out playing, I was watching shows like those above, reading books like Encyclopedia Brown and Nancy Drew. Gathering knowledge, learning about the world around me, and building the type of mind that I have now. I am the way I am because I made myself this way. There were outside influences. For example, I spent a great deal of time alone since both my parents worked and they didn't let me out of the house much, so I watched a lot of tv. But I chose how I let those influences affect me. And those choices started before I even knew what I was doing. It's an interesting insight into who I am. And it all started because of some random cartoon conversation at the lunch table. Awesome, huh?


  1. 3-2-1 Contact and Square One were tv-watching staples in my house growing up. And in fact, my 5th grade teacher would make the latter required watching--in class!--every Friday. The Pac-Man segment, Math-Man, was always my favorite. And so was Mathnet. Instead of "To Serve and Protect," I remember their motto was: "To Cogitate and To Solve." :) Good times.

    On HBO they had a similar show like these called "Encyclopedia," which also has a retro cult following of nostalgic 80s kids like us. Ahh, I miss those days . . .

    We never had Nickolodeon growing up, though (no cable in the Bronx until I was 17), so I missed out on a whole slew of alternative children's televison not airing on PBS or HBO (which we received via special antenna).

  2. Yeah, I stayed at my aunt's house after school and she had cable so I lucked out that way. But it would have been cool to have watched some of these shows in class!

    I think it would be awesome if shows like this were still on the air.