Why I hate Norm Abrams

Page 5 of 7  
Well, I don't personally hate him. Don't even know the guy. (Certainly no fan of his, though.)
But that's the title of the latest piece by one of my favorite columnists in the /Berkeley Daily Planet/, Matt Cantor, local owner of a home-inspection business who writes a weekly column on home repair and maintenance.
Here's a sample:
I do genuinely hate these specific shows: "Hometime," "This Old House" and "The New Yankee Workshop." I hate them for one simple reason: they make most people feel like idiots. Even if a show only demonstrates how to build a basic chest of drawers, it does a lousy job of preparing the average Joe or Joan for the task. In the end, the show provides nothing more than boutique shopping and showing off. I suppose that would be a lot of fun if you only want to learn that youas a homeowner or stock broker or bank clerkknow nothing about houses or furniture or nails and that youll never stand a chance of doing more than hanging a picture on the wall.
On shows like these, the jobs are made to look so darned easy. All the materials are waiting for assembly and nothing is spoiled, the wrong type or missing. The air gun never misfires and the compressor never needs to be drained (yes, you have to drain compressors daily because they fill up with water and will rust out if you dont do so). Thats another thing I hate: in actuality, there are many small details that fill a contractors day (or your day when you play contractor) but theyre neatly edited out, just as they are in a cooking show. Just pop the raw one in the oven and Voila, the new freshly baked one comes right out of the other oven.
(See article at http://berkeleydailyplanet.com/issue/2009-08-20/article/33531 )
--
Found--the gene that causes belief in genetic determinism

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Doesn't matter much, we all know who is being referred to. And, to be honest, Norm Abrams rolls off the tongue much more easily that Norm Abram. Hell, considering how often people mispronounce his last name, he should change it to make it easier on everyone else. :)
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Upscale wrote:

The guy is well enough known that they named a tank after him. That's pretty cool!
3.....2.....
Jon
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The only thing I don't like about those shows is that they make it seem like it can be done in a day and everybody can be there working at the same time....The looks I get from people when they get the news the drywall is gonna take 2 or 3 weeks for their new house and nothing else is gonna be happening inside while we are there.."You mean we can't install the cabinets and trim the windows till your done "...I answer , NO you're gonna get your crap outta here so we can walk around on stilts and not kill ourselves and roll our staging around.....LOL.....
TOH and TNYW are good shows , very informative and I don't include them in the other idiot shows...
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on 8/23/2009 8:30 PM (ET) David Nebenzahl wrote the following:

It's just entertainment, and not a learning program. I suppose many of the viewers don't have any thoughts of building anything they see on the show, or even have the tools to build it. I put it in the same category of shows like "How It's Made" and "American Chopper", where the viewer is not looking for a way to make a Hockey helmet or a custom motorcycle.
--

Bill
In Hamptonburgh, NY
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American Chopper is less and less about motorcycles. It more and more about the Tuetel family soap opera. And watch daddy get rich while he drives his sons away. There has been a couple recent episodes where less than ten minutes of the show had anything to do with building a bike.
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wrote

Is the show even on any more? I have not seen any new episodes since Spring. IMHO it has always been about the drama and I don't really think daddy drove his sons away, more like pushed them out of the nest. It was mostly Sr.'s fault for putting up with the nonsense for all those years. I would have fired both of the sons long before now. Mikey is pretty much a distraction, no more no less. Paul Jr., no work ethic.
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Leon.... it's not real any more. It is the writing crews of Day Of Our Lives...or As The Stomach Turns.
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wrote:

That show has sucked for years now. It was cool in the beginning. Now it is nothing but grand entrances, false dead-lines and stage-craft... and family drama, because we are the voyeurs of human drama and family feuds. We love to slow down at the scene of an accident. Sick.
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Robatoy wrote:

Even if the accident is staged.
--

-MIKE-

"Playing is not something I do at night, it's my function in life"
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Yup. All stagecraft. Like many of the feuds between celebrities.
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Did anyone catch the quote from the TV Show "House" about Norm?
House's oncologist friend Wilson was staying with him between marriages. He noted surprise that House had New Yankee Workshop marked as a favorite on his on-screen menu.
He said "Gee House, I never figured you as the woodworking type."
House responded (paraphrase): "Oh yeah. A total moron in a building full of ultra-sharp woodworking machinery. As a physician, the suspense is unbearable!"
But I still like Norm.
RonB
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RonB wrote:

Norm is a machinist that happens to work in wood rather than metal. For a few shows, they made of point of explaining how some steps could be done with normal tools versus the high-dollar specialty tools, but I haven't seen that lately. But him and his buddy Tom are definitely master carpenters, and if I was a (very) rich man, I'd happily hire them both to build or rebuild a house for me. You can't fake that easy familiarity with the tools, the materials, and the process. I grew up in the business, and saw and worked with enough real carpenters and idiots, to know the difference. Other than making me feel like an inadequate klutz, watching the pros work was always an educational pleasure. Most of them, unless they were on deadline, didn't mind me watching and asking questions. I learned a lot from them.
I liked TOH much better in the early days, in spite of that idiot BV. The projects had something to do with reality back then, and Norm was still a working contractor. (Not sure if Tommy still is- I never see him wearing the 'Silva Brothers' shirts any more.) They also had the owners actually doing work back then, unlike most of the current 'This Old Mansion' projects. The New Orleans arc a couple years ago had a little of that old flavor, with some things actually going wrong. On the out of town projects, they aren't involved as closely, and things still go wrong that can't be edited out.
I think people bitching about the yuppification of TOH is why they started the companion show, Ask TOH. Around here, that has basically driven NYW off the schedule- I only trip across that a few times a year any more, on the local PBS.
-- aem sends....
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I think you are right. My father in law was a machinist for years and then started doing wood. He and Norm have a lot in common in the way they work. While my father in law can turn out some really beautiful pieces often there seems to be something missing. Maybe its that the lines are too straight and the circles too machine perfectly round.
Jimmie
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David Nebenzahl wrote:

It's not a beginners show. Most people that watch have no problem and you can get the plans and info on the internet most of the time.
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Has the term inspiration become obsolete? After reading the message I think I know what direction I would not look for any. What does Cantor expect? Watch a half hour program and the viewer will have the ability to build anything?
These shows simply demonstrate what can be done if a person is willing to apply themselves.
I don't mind giving Norm and all the others some of the credit for inspiring me. I've watched many of those programs over the last three or four decades and have learned a lot from them.
I started small years ago building furniture, a rec room and various DIY projects, and ended up designing and building the house I live in today.
When I say build I mean I did the building. I hired a contractor to do the foundation. I did most of the rest of the work with help from friends and family.
I'm presently building kitchen cupboards, much the same as I saw Norm building cupboards on his show. I'll post a few photos of the house and some utility room cupboards I built for practice on alt.binaries.pictures.woodworking
As for Mr Cantor, I'd give him the credit for having the ability to discourage someone from ever starting because it will be too hard.
Out of curiosity, has Cantor ever built anything or is he just an inspector?
By the way, I worked all my adult live as a Technician and didn't know the first thing about hanging a picture frame when I started. I learned from my mistakes and kept at it. If Norm can do it so can I.
LdB
David Nebenzahl wrote

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On 8/23/2009 1:25 PM David Nebenzahl spake thus:
[yes, it's Abram, not Abrams. Apparently they didn't name the tank after him.]

Heh; got some junk mail from /Popular Woodworking/ today (don't think I'll subscribe, as I got spoiled from reading /Fine Woodworking/). The pitch features the cover from their August 2005 issue, with a photo of Norm in his shop. The article title is "In the Shop with Norm Abram: We Debunk 7 Myths About TV's Frugal Yankee".
Wonder what the myths are. Anyone have this issue lying around?
--
Found--the gene that causes belief in genetic determinism

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David Nebenzahl wrote:

I remember that issue, way back when and they were all softball questions. You know, "Does Norm own the shop" and "Does Norm really have a power tool fetish" and "Does Norm actually build all those projects himself", that kind of thing.
I will say, Popular Woodworking surprised me, I got it on a whim one year and have kept renewing ever since. FWW, PWW and a multi-year subscription to Wood that someone got me is all I read these days.
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On 8/26/2009 1:29 PM Brian Henderson spake thus:

Who needs Playboy or Penthouse when one has a good woodworking magazine to drool over?
--
Found--the gene that causes belief in genetic determinism

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