If you have yet to see it, the former star of HBO's Arliss, Robert Wuhl has done two presentations to college students about history for television and they are two of the most worthwhile history programs that you'll see. They were on HBO, not PBS or The History Channel, interestingly enough. As a History Channel junkie, I'm giving some major praise here. The program is called Assume The Position With Mr. Wuhl and Mr. Wuhl gives the class and viewers at home one of the most entertaining and enlightening lessons in history, that they can ask for and brings some hefty enthusiasm with him. Of course, this includes enthusiastically dropping a few F-bombs just to get your attention-it is HBO after all. If only your average professor were like Mr. Wuhl. Across the first Assume The Position, Wuhl simply introduces his basic philosophy of history...he assumes the position that it's nothing but pop culture. He backs this up by explaining who in the living crap Israel Bissell was, how similar old 19th century authors were to the likes of Quentin Tarantino and Steven Tyler and why in the name of Aunt Fanny's Nanny Yankee Doodle would call that feather in his cap macaroni of all things. The second installment was great as well but here are my favorite quotes from the first Assume The Position, now showing on HBO again:
1. ''So, this world-is-round story is 100% bullsh!t.'' -Wuhl says this while shattering a huge Christopher Columbus myth with an appropriate and understandable level of glee.
2. ''You remember Rip Van Winkle,...story about a man who has a nagging wife. He gets drunk, goes to sleep for 20 years, wakes up, his wife is dead and he lives happily ever after. ''
3. ''Not that Academy awards are the be-all and end-all of everything. I mean, Ben Affleck's got a f**kin' Oscar for God's sakes! ''
After Wuhl puts up a picture of a man on a horse in colonial dress he asks:
4. ''How about this guy? 1775, Boston, Massachusetts: A British postal worker, 23-years-old. A postal rider, hears that the British are invading. He gets on a horse and rides 350 miles to warn the colonists. And his name is? (The students dully drone in unison ''Paul Revere'' and Wuhl gladly corrects them) His name is Israel Bissell...''
5. ''So, right off the bat, our country is based upon a grammatical f**k-up!''
Lastly, after showing a very helpful and eye-opening visual aid:
6. ''I think it's safe to assume the position that there was no such thing as a colonial quickie.''