Libraries Woo Kids with Video Games

News worth an honorable mention, including word of a new approach by Michigan libraries.

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ALISON STEWART, host:

Hey, thank you so much for checking out THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT from NPR News. If you like what you hear, you can hear it all the darn time, because we're there online at npr.org/bryantpark. My name is Alison Stewart. Sitting in, my guest host today, NPR's media correspondent, David Folkenflik.

Okay, David, we've read the front page.

DAVID FOLKENFLIK, host:

Yeah.

STEWART: You know, we've read the beef recall. We've heard the news from Matt Martinez. Let's loosen up a little bit. Time for the news that's just barely fit to print. Oh, he's stretching. He's ready…

FOLKENFLIK: Oh, yeah.

STEWART: …to Ramble.

(Soundbite of music)

STEWART: All right, usually, you got to libraries, public libraries. Some lady in the can-eyed glasses with the sweater with the chain is going shh. Pipe down. Not so in southeastern Michigan. They are cranking "Guitar Hero" and "Dance, Dance Revolution." Apparently, the public library has this - they're into a mission to get young people to get to come to the library, so they figured, well, bring a video game and they will come.

(Soundbite of laughter)

STEWART: They have about - a collection of about 1,800 games, 1,300 of them are checked out regularly, and they started a holding these monthly competitions for "Guitar Hero" at the Rochester Hills Public Library.

FOLKENFLIK: You know, I was thinking, good luck with that. But, actually, they've had good luck with it.

STEWART: They've good luck with that, and they're sort of embracing the whole idea that video games help cognitive skills and the tournaments encourage good, clean fun and socializing, also get kids actually into the library near the books, which are near the video games.

FOLKENFLIK: And you hate to hear these kids go out to college without the notion of how to air pick. That's settled.

STEWART: See? Exactly. And now this librarian in Rochester who I like so much, is she's just really very realistic about the whole thing. She says, quote, "Getting teens to come to the library is right up there with getting them to go to church. It's not exactly the first place they want to go, unless there's a 'Guitar Hero' competition." So, smart lady.

FOLKENFLIK: A wing and a prayer, I guess.

STEWART: Winger and a prayer.

(Soundbite of laughter)

FOLKENFLIK: There you go.

A couple of other things here. When you hear about a $14.3 million license plate, especially one in the United Arab Emirates, you probably imagine a gold and diamond encrusted one. Nope, it's aluminum. But the number on it is worth its weight in gold. Number one.

STEWART: Number one. It's important to be number one.

FOLKENFLIK: You know, in California where I grew up, we had vanity plates. But this is extreme vanity. It gets it's own reality show.

In addition, if you think about television, and it's rotting your brain…

STEWART: Yes?

FOLKENFLIK: …maybe it doesn't.

STEWART: Why is that?

FOLKENFLIK: There's a really smart guy out there who says there are at least 10 good TV shows that do not insult your intelligence and may actually cultivate it.

STEWART: Wow.

FOLKENFLIK: Jim Werdell, chairman of the uber brilliant group of folks at Mensa International gave us his list of the 10 most intelligent shows ever in honor of the end of the Hollywood writer strike.

STEWART: All right, let me hear.

FOLKENFLIK: Here's the list, but lest start from the top and go backwards. Really smart people know how to do that. I've got to try. Number 10, in honor of out own Tricia McKinney, "Jeopardy."

STEWART: Three-time "Jeopardy" champion Tricia McKinney. I always need to say that.

FOLKENFLIK: That's what I'm talking about. Number nine, "Mad About You." Number…

STEWART: Well, Paul Reiser is smart?

(Soundbite of laughter)

FOLKENFLIK: Well, you know, I will say, his friend on that show, I see all the time in my new neighborhood. So I'm a little softer than I once was.

STEWART: Oh. Okay.

FOLKENFLIK: Number eight, "Frasier."

STEWART: Oh, I get that.

FOLKENFLIK: Number seven, "All in the Family." Sort of a historical nod, you know.

STEWART: Sure.

FOLKENFLIK: Archie Bunker, Queens, dealing with race, you know.

STEWART: Stifle. I learned a new word. Okay.

FOLKENFLIK: All right. Number six, "Boston Legal."

STEWART: I would agree with that.

FOLKENFLIK: You would agree with that.

STEWART: Just keeping up with the banter…

FOLKENFLIK: Really?

STEWART: …the witty repartee, the Jimmy character.

FOLKENFLIK: You're all about David E. Kelly?

STEWART: Well, you know, you have to pay attention and be able to process.

FOLKENFLIK: And I guess it is. I guess you do. And you got to like William Shatner.

STEWART: Yeah. Of course.

FOLKENFLIK: Number five, "The West Wing." If you want rapid banter, you can't do better than "West Wing," and you're, you know, willing to put up with a lot of self congratulation in the process.

STEWART: Yes.

FOLKENFLIK: Number four, "House."

STEWART: Oh, that can you send you…

FOLKENFLIK: Over on the FOX.

STEWART: Yes, that can send you out Googling all kinds of ologies and various body parts and biology and medical terms. So, sure.

FOLKENFLIK: Yeah. I just like the meanness when I've seen it. I'm in favor of the meanness. Number three, "CSI." - three, probably, of the most familiar initials on television.

STEWART: Mm-hmm.

FOLKENFLIK: number two, "Cosmos with Carl Sagan."

STEWART: Billions and billions and billions…

FOLKENFLIK: Billions and billions of years ago, that was on television. Number one, "M*A*S*H."

STEWART: Huh.

FOLKENFLIK: The 4077.

STEWART: Well, historical. I think missing from this list, "Gilmore Girls." Have you ever tried to keep up with an episode of "Gilmore Girls?"

FOLKENFLIK: I can honestly say no. I've never tried to keep up an episode of "Gilmore Girls."

STEWART: the references that fly - and it was one of the smartest - was one of the smartest shows. I just think…

FOLKENFLIK: I just got to ask the one question. And you hate to do this to somebody who's been kind enough to provide us with this. But how smart can a guy be who leaves out "Arrested Development?"

STEWART: See. Oh, people - everybody in the control room says, yes.

FOLKENFLIK: I'm getting not one but two thumbs up from the control room.

STEWART: And finally, there's going to be high fives over at High Times today, I think, the magazine that's known for, you know, promoting marijuana use.

FOLKENFLIK: Yeah.

STEWART: But this is above board. A group of doctors fighting to give glaucoma patients access to marijuana - the American College of Physicians. Over 100,000 doctors, Steve, calling on the federal government to ease restrictions on medical marijuana. The group says it's time to end the cannabis controversy, accept the science that pot has demonstrated benefits and medicinal promise. It's a 13-page position paper posted on the Web site Thursday. What they really want is the marijuana to be dropped from a schedule one drug classification, which it shares with Heroin and LSD.

FOLKENFLIK: And that sound that you just heard somewhere softly was Seth Rogan waking up and saying, dude.

(Soundbite of laughter)

STEWART: That is The Ramble. You can find theses stories and so much on our Web site: npr.org/bryantpark.

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