A better boob tube?
This past weekend some friends and I rented a cabin upstate. As we divided into tasks of food shopping, cooking, bloody-mary-making et cetera, I greedily snatched up the best task for myself: Hauling in the firewood and starting a blaze in the hearth. The wood was already split and corded—I know, lame—but while there were many felled trees on the property, I'm ashamed to say that your correspondent has never even touched a chainsaw, nor split his own logs with an axe.
This cityboy would never cut the mustard in Norway, where more than a million households have fireplaces or wood-burning stoves. And Norwegians presumably do most of their own wood-chopping: Author Lars Mytting's book Solid Wood: All About Chopping, Drying and Stacking Wood — and the Soul of Wood-Burning was a bestseller and, as the Times reports, even spawned a 12-hour-long single-episode television show.
The program was called National Firewood Night, and here's the kicker: The first four hours were all about cutting, splitting and stacking firewood. The last eight hours were continuous footage of wood burning in a fireplace. And apparently it was riveting. Whereas an estimated one out of three Americans tuned into the Superbowl, one out of five Norwegians caught some part of Firewood.
"I couldn't go to bed because I was so excited," a viewer called niesa36 said on the Dagbladet newspaper Web site. "When will they add new logs? Just before I managed to tear myself away, they must have opened the flue a little, because just then the flames shot a little higher.
"I'm not being ironic," the viewer continued. "For some reason, this broadcast was very calming and very exciting at the same time."
Perhaps more interesting is that reality television seems to spawn controversy regardless of the subject matter. "We received about 60 text messages from people complaining about the stacking [of the firewood] in the program," Mytting told the Times. "Fifty percent complained that the bark was facing up, and the rest complained that the bark was facing down."
Even still, this American thinks it's better to argue about wood than Kardashians.