Your TV Life Map

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For this week’s Life Mapping activity relating to our weekly topic of Television Better Endings, I invite you to map a history of some of your favorite television programs for as far back as you can recall. Map those shows or series that have been most meaningful to you, perhaps those that you have personally identified with or that represent for you a chronology of your own development or of your generational heritage. This can include news events—like JFK’s assassination or the Twin Towers tragedy—as well as TV series or episodes, TV movies, and documentaries or special features.

You don’t need a long list of TV memories, just a representative sample.

After making your list, look it over to see if you find patterns evident in your list of favorite television programs. What does your list—or segments of it—say about you?

Leaving that question open, let me try this myself as an example, at least with a selective sampling from what would be my own TV Map. By the way, feel free to arrange these shows or memories in any format you like. You can just use a list, or make a pie chart, or clouds in a sky… any arrangement that feels meaningful for your reflections. In fact, I think I’ll cluster mine in a collage design with clipart icons representing the TV program types, rather than use a linear, simple chronology.
So, here’s my example:

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My TV Map Collage reveals a progression of my interests from childhood to Now and shows how earlier interests have led to later career and personal preferences. Early programs (like Flipper, My Friend Flicka, Lassie and Rin Tin Tin) oriented me toward animal stories which I often shared with my best friend, Karen. (She is represented by the childhood friends image and the violin, as we learned violin together.) Then came JFK’s funeral, a significant generational marker event ‘grounding’ my childhood’s otherwise mainly imaginative focus. News stories form a thread throughout the mapping as historical ‘punctuation points’. But later came Star Trek series, travel and adventure stories, and more pet stories until college days, when Saturday Night Live and several sitcoms involving psychologists (Bob Newhart and later Frazier) and programs about family-like friendships, plus a documentary about Native American activism, held my attention while I was studying comparative literature, psychology, philosophy and anthropology. Since the Twin Towers tragedy and, in Colorado, the Columbine massacre, more recent TV preoccupations have included Physics and other science programs, lately the Big Bang Theory, and–as I begin to dream of retirement plans–Treehouse Masters.

Spirituality, instead of politics, is an underlying focus throughout the whole Map, associated with a search for truth and a sense of creative adventure and friendship/family/pet connections of unconditional love.

Childhood reflections:

Animal companions, Friends

Show me Love, not War.

I invite and welcome your Comments, insights and stories!

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Some Benefits of TV (Two Guest Re-Blogs)

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As part of our focus this week on applying Better Endings to the topic of television, I  searched online for stories on how television might benefit people under the right conditions. Here are two useful, informative viewpoints.- LW

How Watching TV Helps Your Health–A great excuse to watch TV tonight…

By Jessica Girdwain

 http://www.redbookmag.com/health-wellness/advice/watching-tv-has-health-benefits

Not all tube-watching is a big waste of time. In fact, research suggests that certain programs may actually have health benefits for you and your family.

Take nature shows, for instance: In one new study from the University of Rochester in New York, people who watched nature scenes felt more energetic and charitable. Previous studies have found that just looking at still images of nature can lower blood pressure and muscle tension, two markers of unhealthy stress.

But Animal Planet and National Geographic aren’t the only beneficial channels — turns out, network teen dramas may be a free sex-ed lesson for your daughter. Young girls who watched an episode of The OC (remember that show?!) that featured a character dealing with an unintended pregnancy said they would be more likely to practice safe sex, a study from the University of California, Santa Barbara found.

“It makes them feel more vulnerable to pregnancy, and imagining that they are friends with the characters makes them more open to the message,” says study coauthor Robin Nabi, Ph.D.

Points for entertainment value: Girls did not report the same safe-sex intentions after watching a news program on teen pregnancy.

Read more: Health Benefits of Television – Benefits of Watching TV – Redbook
Follow us: @redbookmag on Twitter | REDBOOK on Facebook
Visit us at Redbook.com

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How Communicative Is Your Preschooler? — 5 Ways TV Time Can Help

By Carey Bryson

http://kidstvmovies.about.com/od/healthytvhabits/a/How-Communicative-Is-Your-Preschooler-5-Ways-Tv-Time-Can-Help.htm

 

You know that educational shows for preschoolers like Dora the Explorer or Mickey Mouse Clubhouse can help young children learn simple concepts such as letters, shapes and early reading skills. But with a little help from you, limited TV time can be an effective tool in teaching kids far more important concepts, such as thinking skills, communication skills, and early literary concepts. Here’s how you can use TV shows and movies to help your child excel:

  1. Talk about the story and ask a lot of questions…

Every time you watch a TV show or movie with your child, talk about the show just as you would talk about a book. Ask your child which part of the show was his favorite. Which character did he like? Why? The more you can get him talking about the show, the more he develops communication skills and the ability to recall and relate to a story. As you know, even adults benefit from having good communications skills, so just by talking about the shows he watches, you are putting your preschooler on the path to success.

  1. Retell, retell, retell…

If you’ve had a child go through school, you know that one of the key things teachers gauge in those early reading years is how well a child can retell a story she’s just read. Can the child effectively communicate what happened in the story? Does she include the beginning, middle and end of the story as she recounts the main events?

After your child watches a movie or TV show, even if she’s seen it a hundred times, go over the story with her afterward. Talk about what happened in the beginning and the middle, and point out how the conflict or problem was resolved in the end.

Once your child seems to understand what it means to retell what happened in a show, see if she can do it on her own. As she tries to recount the events in order, encourage her by asking questions like, “What happened first?” and “What happened next?” Once she gets the hang of retelling stories from TV shows, books and movies, she’ll be well on her way to making up well-constructed stories of her own.

  1. Predict, infer, and analyze…

Predict, infer and analyze are big words for preschoolers, but they don’t have to understand that’s what they’re doing. You can easily help your child learn to predict by asking, “What do you think Diego will do next?” or “Oh no, what will happen if Curious George eats all those doughnuts?” Extend this TV time learning by asking him to predict what will happen in real life situations throughout the day with questions like, “What will happen if…” or “Which one would work better…”

Teach your child to infer information that is not explicitly stated in the shows and movies he watches by looking at characters’ faces and other details. Some of the easiest inferences for children to make are about characters’ feelings. Ask him, “How does Minnie feel knowing that everyone forgot her birthday?” If he has trouble expressing what he thinks she feels, point out the signs that show she feels sad: “See Minnie’s face? It looks like she’s frowning. And she’s looking down at the ground. I think Minnie feels sad.”

Very young children can also learn to analyze through talking about characters in movies. As your child becomes more comfortable talking about the stories he reads about and sees on TV, ask him to analyze characters’ motivations and actions. A few examples of questions you could ask him are: “Why do think Handy Manny wants to help Mr. Lopez?” “Why do you think Mr. Lopez doesn’t want Manny’s help?” Even if your child doesn’t hit the nail on the head, encourage him for trying and offer your opinion on the characters’ actions and motivations as well.

  1. Talk about the characters’ behaviors and consequences…

In addition to discussing story elements, drawing inferences and making predictions, also talk about behaviors and attitudes. Discussing characters’ actions as you co-view allows you to relate family values and help solidify your child’s knowledge of social and life skills. Reiterate character behavior you like: “I really like how Doc McStuffins helps her little brother when he has a problem.” And point out the consequences of poor choices: “It’s too bad that Stanley yelled at his friend. Now his friend doesn’t want to play with him anymore.”

Ask your child questions about how characters’ behaviors affect themselves and others. “That’s great that the characters learned to brush their teeth properly. What do you think the dentist will say next time they have a check-up?” “What would happen at the appointment if they didn’t brush their teeth?” These kinds of questions seem so simple, but they lay a strong foundation for kids’ thinking skills. Being able to analyze their own behavior and how it will affect others, or themselves, is a skill many adults still need to work on. So establishing the habit early can make a difference.

  1. Compare and contrast…

Yes, you can prepare your preschooler for those dreaded Compare/Contrast essays she’ll get to write in middle school! The process of picking out similarities and differences will be oh so familiar to her by then, if you ask her now to tell you how two characters like Boots and Swiper are the same or different. Or how Dora’s trip to Mermaid Kingdom is similar to her trip to the Enchanted Forest.

Another great way to engage preschoolers is to compare and contrast a movie with the book it’s based on. Look for good movies based on books that your preschooler likes, and ask her to tell you how the movie was different from the book, and how it was the same. Movies based on books can also encourage kids to read more, and those that are narrated word for word can even help kids learn how to read with fluency and feeling.

The difference that simple practices like these can make in a preschoolers’ ability to communicate, think and create their own stories is phenomenal. Many parents use these questions and techniques when reading, but discussing TV and movies in the same way provides even more opportunities for learning and growth. Not only that, but preschoolers love the time and attention. They have fun talking about their favorite things, and they’ll be ecstatic to have that one-on-one time with you.

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TUNING IN

Communications And Tv Using A Satellite Dish

Tuesdays are Prompts days at Better Endings, relating to our weekly theme, which this week is television Better Endings.  I’ll list some topics you might write or talk about, or share your Comments or stories about, in relation to the Better Endings concept. Is there a TV series you’ve always wished would have ended differently, especially one you felt personally invested in while the series was on the air?  Or, is there a specific episode of a favorite television program you would love to see a Better Ending for?

I’ll list some possible topics for creative re-scripting in a bit. But overnight while I was contemplating this theme, I realized how television as an expressive MEDIUM is a blank canvas for the imagination to project upon. To me, much of contemporary TV fare is vacuous, little more than comic or dramatic drivel based on overused characters and tedious plots. Maybe that reveals my age (59), showing I am jaded about contemporary TV situational comedy and drama. I grew up with the original Star Trek and heady fare like Mission Impossible, The Prisoner , The Avengers and Dr. No; plus raucous, 60’s-70’s ‘revolutionary’ romps including Laugh-In, The Love Boat, Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie, all of which presented a ‘new’ world of magical-thinking possibilities and romantic license. But closer to my point: If you think of television as a blank canvas, what would you really LIKE TO SEE projected there?

Last night I envisioned a Reality program that would be somewhat of a cross between TED Talks and How It’s Made.  A challenging global issue, like World Hunger, would be given to a Think Tank assembly of inventors, political savants, natural scientists and social scientists, and engineers from relevant fields, with a global audience free to call in with their ideas, too. The program would stay on that challenging issue, inviting pertinent policy makers and politicians as needed, for as long as the assembly took to arrive at practical solutions and then to actually IMPLEMENT them, at least on a small scale that could then realistically be expanded to a whole scale transformation. What a concept! Middle East peace, asteroid deflection, fresh water sustainability, free and renewable energy with non-harmful means of extraction and generation, etcetera…now, there’s a TV program I would tune into! (Are there any producers or screenwriters out there?) Why COULDN’T we use television or other worldwide information media to arrive at win-win situations to global problems as a collective, species wide think tank?

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Okay now, let me rein this in some. Here’s a list of possible ‘prompt’ topics to apply Better Endings to regarding television.  Feel free to Comment with your own ideas:

  • Family situational comedies
  • Crime dramas
  • Science documentaries
  • The composition of ensemble casts (who would combine well, for what kinds of programs?)
  • Memorable series endings re-writes (e.g. Friends, Seinfeld, the Mary Tyler Moore show, Lost, All in the Family)
  • Projected ‘good’ endings of current series
  • Day-TV soap operas
  • Sci-fi drama series
  • Documentary series
  • Reality TV

If you think of a good “through-line” (that is, a one sentence zinger that describes a fully envisioned episode or series concept), please send it to share! The sky’s the limit…well actually, not even!

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Thanks for stopping by. And always, Better Endings to You! – Linda

Television Better Endings

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By now we have applied Better Endings as a principle to a wide range of topics, ranging from creative revisioning of movie endings and historical events to personal decisions, childhood events, and conversations.  We have been finding that putting this principle into action in one domain can carry over onto others.  Better Endings as a general principle can help us to be more mindful in day-to-day life as we realize we always have a choice, moment by moment, to proactively construct a path to the most desirable outcomes for all concerned. This allows us from our present vantage point to be cognizant of the past while attentive to where we wish to be heading from Here (and how to get there). If we go back to one of our earlier realizations from this blog, the Present is a doorway to alternate future ‘worlds’; so our choices Now can adjust the aperture or likelihoods for future conditions.

Door to new reality

This week we return to a creatively playful theme of Television Better Endings. When I was in my teens I remember maybe the first time I ever thought of the principle of ‘better endings,’ when the television series The Fugitive ended. Finally Dr. Richard Kimball could get back to his life; the one-armed man who had ransacked his home and murdered his wife (for which he himself had been wrongly accused and imprisoned) was captured. Kimball’s innocence was affirmed; he was a free man. Well, that’s a good ending, if fairly predictable; it tied up loose ends of the story so the series could end. But I thought it would have been deviously fun if at the very end, after the newly accused man was safely behind bars, Richard Kimball might be walking along a private California beach near his home in the moonlight, and he would unscrew his own prosthetic arm and fling it into the sea!

So, Better Endings as a principle applied to television doesn’t necessarily have to be ethical; but still, what might my The Fugitive ending say about me (or, one you might write or ‘right’, about you)? Maybe I just saw Richard Kimball as a man of mystery to the end. For him to have finally, once and for all, outsmarted the deputy marshall Girard who had hounded his footsteps through the whole series would seem to have been justified, albeit in a twisted way.  As a teen I suppose I wanted Kimball (or the actor David Jansen)’s freedom more than anything else.

Most of the television I watch these days is either informative (e.g. Through the Wormhole, The Universe, programs on Stonehenge, etc.), sci-fi oriented (re-runs of Star Trek NG), or historical. The only series I pay any attention to any more is The Big Bang Theory, which I have become rather addicted to since my last cross-country drive.  I’ll have to play with these a bit to be able to offer any fine applications of Better Endings to such fare or others.

How about you? What television shows or series hold your attention these days, and why? How might they or a particular episode end ‘better’ or how might earlier TV stories or series have ended more to the liking of your creative re-imagining?

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Have fun! I invite all Comments, story suggestions, and Stories!