Friday, August 16, 2019

Football Counter-Programming 2019: Preseason

Are you ready?!

It's the time of year when I blog the most. When you combine together my annual effort to distract you from slavishly watching college football all weekend long AND the tradition of talking about upcoming television shows . . . you get me trying to be publicly creative in an outmoded medium of self-expression.

But then again, you could say that I am an out-moded medium of self-expression.

I might look at you quizzically when you say that to my face. But, then again, I'm thinking it in my head right now as I type this. So how can I convincingly make thsi seem unexpected? You know, this might work better as an audio joke. But as I try to prolong it even more by typing it, and backing up to fix my mis-spelling and grammar and everything. Just trust me that if you were hear watching this appear on a screen, you'd already be tired of it.

ANYWAY . . .

The point of this post is to inform you that I am preparing to start up another season of Football Counter-Programming. Each Saturday during the college football season I will try to craft some blog post on some random topic of my choosing that will be so inventive, so dazzlingly creative, so undeniable that you will set aside everything and give up the culture of football to read my blog post.



Now . . . I know that I just said that the topic would be of MY choosing. But I want to be upfront with you and say that if you have an idea for something you want me to write about, I would love to hear it. Please drop me a comment on this blog post or leave me a social media mention with some ideas. I will consider these suggestions and hopefully live up to your expectations.

If you DON'T have any suggestions, I'll just be forced to sit down in front of a blank screen and start typing with my fingers and see where it takes me. And if you read the paragraph above about the stream-of-consciousness joke writing, then maybe you want to prevent that?

If you are new to this, however, and want some samples of past efforts, I'll link to a few of my favorites below.

2014 Week 1: certainly not the best, but definitely the first entry in the theme

2015 Week 2: in which it was revealed that the Twin Peaks Log Lady was the world's greatest fan of the Dark Knight

2016 Week 3: where I make public one of my best ideas ever

2017 Week 2: when I recounted the time I got involved with the local cops

2017 Week 6: where I worked on complaining less and becoming a more positive person

2018 Week 1: featuring a ranking of top-5 fictional presidents

2018, Week 10: featuring a GoPro video of Grace's marching band sophomore year show "Full Circle"

And remember . . . until I see you again on the first football Saturday of the season. The preseason college rankings have about as much truth behind them as a presidential election poll 16 months before Election Day.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

50 Greatest Celebrities of All Time

As a way to celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of Why Won't You Grow, I'm going back to a bread and butter topic of this blog that I used to write about lots and lots of time in the past.

Celebrity and fame.

Using work already started by The Ringer Web site, I've got "a" list of the greatest celebrities of All Time provided below, along with a podcast focused on this debate. If you've got the time and interest, I suggest you listen.

But if you want to skip that, I've reproduced their list below--ranked from No. 1 to No. 50. And I'll try to provide my own reaction to each choice . . . if I recognize them.

Happy reading!

1. Oprah
I guess I'm not surprised by this. Everyone is always saying that Oprah is successful and rich and influential and famous and stuff. If all of that doesn't add up to you being the best celebrity, what is it all for?

2. Beyoncé
I guess I'm not surprised by this either? But there is a part of me that chalks this up to recency bias. And maybe that part of me just doesn't care that much about her music?

3. Muhammad Ali
My children's generation will have no connection to Muhammad Ali whatsoever. And I'm sure that when they are in charge, he would never get ranked in the top twenty, and absolutely never within the top 5. I have no direct connection to Ali personally. But I know enough to know what a pivotal cultural role he played at a tumultuous time.

4. Princess Diana
Come on. I reject this. But even so, I can't deny she matches up with the notion of "celebrity" which is being famous for being famous.

5. Tom Cruise
If the Top Gun: Maverick trailer had not come out two weeks ago, would Cruise's ranking have slipped further down the top 10?

6. Madonna
This is the opposite of recency bias, I guess? What has Madonna done in the last twenty years that justified such a high ranking? Or am I simply discounting how BIG she was in the 1980s? But then . . . what about Michael Jackson? He was definitely as influential as Madonna--as well as being controversial. But maybe it is the nature of the controversy that priviledged Madonna?

7. David Bowie

8. Rihanna
I don't get it.

9. John Lennon
I do get it.

10. Jesus Christ
I see what you did there. And I cannot fathom that Rihanna is ranked higher than Jesus H. Christ!

11. Marilyn Monroe
Perhaps the embodiment of the modern media celebrity?

12. George Clooney
It is so much harder to be a celebrity if you aren't i.) handsome/good looking and ii.) charming. Take those two things away from George Clooney and what is he? Mark Ruffalo?

13. Cher
Okay. Cher has been famous for a long time.

14. Brad Pitt
See George Clooney, but subtract a significant amount of the charming part and bump up his acting skill level.

15. Leonardo DiCaprio
What makes him famous? "Titanic"? His man-about-town status?

16. Jack Nicholson
True fact about me. I always have to mentally pause and think Jack Nicholson . . . the actor? Or Jack Nicklaus . . . the golfer? Nicholson is definitely the bigger celebrity of the two--thanks to Nicholson's own personal and professional choices, for sure. But don't sleep on Nicklaus. He's been a damn good, historically great sports figure for all of his adult life.

17. Prince
No way am I okay with Prince being so much lower than Rihanna here.

18. Arnold Schwarzenegger
It's naht a  misprint! (And Stallone must be really angry about this.)

19. Lady Gaga
If you are willing to wear a meat dress in public, you get inside the top 20, I guess.

20. Elizabeth Taylor
What is the contemporary equivalent of Elizabeth Taylor? My mind immediately went to Anne Hathaway. What say you?

21. Jennifer Lopez
Too bad it wasn't made of meat. (If you're reading this on mobile, go to the Web version and click the link.)

22. Joan of Arc

23. Michael Jordan
Being the unquestioned best at the top-level achievement of your profession is not--apparently--as significant as being famous and media-worthy. Skill does not equate to fame.

24. Bruce Lee
At the risk of offending people, this feels a bit like tokenism and also . . . if "Once Upon A Time . . . In Hollywood" wasn't just released?

25. Ariana Grande
The highest-ranking Disney Channel kid? Or Nickelodeon kid? Promise you that the Ringer staffers who made up a lot of this list have an average age of 25.

26. Will Smith
Big Willy Style can't be more historically inspirational than being guided by voices, right Joan? And it helps to be a martyr. If Joan had avoided being burned at the stake, she would have been eventually penalized for the historical equivalent of "Wild Wild West." (Never outlive your fame, I guess.)

27. Napoleon Bonaparte
I know at least one person that is going to be salty about this number.

28. Aretha Franklin
Let me be the millionth person to make the joke that Aretha ain't getting enough R.E.S.P.E.C.T. on this list.

29. Kanye West

30. Elvis
Southern tokenism

31. Paul Newman
Deserves to outrank Ariana Grande on the basis of "Cool Hand Luke" alone. PLUS his post acting charity work. AND for the fact that he may have the only good Hollywood marriage in recorded history.

32. Drake
Canadian tokenism? And if he'd been a child actor on an American network . . . what then?

33. Tom Hanks
Probably ranks lower than he should because he is also hit by the Michael Jordan issue (fame trumping actual skill). But maybe also Hanks benefitted from having incredibly good timing? He was in the biggest, most influential movies at a very specific and intense time in Hollywood history. Is he that skilled of an actor is you are being brutally honest? Rember that Hollywood success is driven a lot of networking and timing--and if the timing isn't right the networking won't work at all.

34. Nicolas Cage
See? Based on a pure evaluation of fame (but not acting skill, mind you), I think that Cage edges out Hanks. Cage is just willing to play the celebrity bizarre card more than Hanks ever has--or will.

35. Michelle Obama
This is just a straight-up insult to First Ladies. Michelle Obama has tried to do more to help people with her recognition and her notoriety than Nick Cage EVER. Stop it.

36. James Dean
Your grandfather's celebrity of choice. But why not John Wayne? (Left Coast bias, Ringer staff?)

37. David Beckham

38. Meryl Streep
Again, it's pure Jordan Rules that ended up pushing Streep below David freakin' Beckham here. And truthfully she'd probably be ranked even lower if not for her recent run as the Academy Awards audience meme lord.

39. Jane Fonda
Barbarella gets no love. And has America already forgotten that she taught us how to aerobicize?

40. Frederick Douglass
Wow. Unexpected and insulting simultaneously.

41.Shaquille O’Neal
Well, at least the great abolitionist reformer and historical influencer outranked the Diesel Shaq Daddy.

42. Michael J. Fox
He did more for puffy vests than anyone!

43. Mariah Carey
Go peddle your vocal flourishes somewhere else.

44. Dwayne Johnson
This low ranking will only propel him to more insane bicep dimensions. You've all made a terrible mistake.

45. Diplo
Definitely, Lego is better.

46. Sophie Turner
Without Instagram, she would be nowhere on this list.

47. Joan Didion
I wonder how she feels about being ranked below her son Diplo?

48. Cara Delevingne
I cannot begin to explain this position for Cara. Is being a former friend of Taylor Swift + getting a John Green bump matter THAT much?

49. Guy Fieri


50. Jamie Foxx

Monday, August 12, 2019

Happy 15th anniversary to WWYG?!

Did you know I started this blog a decade and a half ago?
It's true.

I don't have much else to add right now about that. But maybe I can think about it more later today or possibly tonight.

Much, much, MUCH has changed in my life since that August day so long ago. And the balance of time is skewed very strongly in my favor, to be sure. If I want to find things to be upset about, that is on my to be focused on the wrong things.

Here is to another many years of ignoring this site . . .

Monday, July 22, 2019

Party Month 2019: Happy Birthday no. 3

It is nearing the end of July so that means the annual tradition of Party Month is coming to a close for another 11-and-a-half months. For those of you who don't know Party Month represents a sequence of:

Grace's birthday (July 26)
Lynda's birthday (July 1)
Wedding anniversary (July 8)
Sarah's birthday (July 22)


Last year at this time, I was waxing poetically about Sarah growing up, graduating, and moving out onto her own in the world. And she has started to do just that. Sure, we saw quite a bit of her during her first year of college (she was only 20 minutes down the road after all). But Sarah definitely got to be more independent and she has learned more and more about how to make her own choices, set her own schedule, and see her own life in front of her rather than the life we have been laying out for the last eighteen years.

She still has miles to go before she sleeps--and she doesn't get loads of that in college anyway. But she is handling the challenges well. And Lynda and I continue to be proud of who she is, what she thinks, and how she sees herself and the world.

This summer she has been hard at work almost every day down in the North Market at Destination Donuts. It's been more exhausting than relaxing during the summer months when she hasn't been at school. But we're all glad that she has the job and that she has some extra money to spend. And she'll be able to keep working there during the school weekends to help maintain that cash flow. So, as usual, there is much to be proud of.

She's turning nineteen today and is doing a great job of figuring out who she is and what she wants to do with her life. I've been praising her on this Web site since she was four years old, so sometimes it seems like I've run out of nice things to say. But she keeps on growing and getting better. I don't always remark on it here or in person, but I'm always taking notice and being happy for what I see. 

It is hard growing up in today's world. And Lynda and I have always put high expectations on our girls. So we haven't always made it easier. But through it all Sarah has maintained her calm and found ways to be happy. She doesn't always go out of her way to show her personal side to the world, so sometimes you have to stretch out yourself to engage with her. But I promise that if you put in the effort to know her better, you'll find a thoughtful, creative, and fun person. She'll well worth knowing--and I should know because I've been paying attention for a long time.

Happy birthday to you Sarah! Here is to many, many more to come.

Friday, July 19, 2019

WWYG Old School Review: Top Gun--Maverick

Let's do this Old School (or as my friend EH said back when WWYG?! was a regularly going concern--"Let's kick it Old Style") and review the trailer for Tom Cruise's new death wish Top Gun: Maverick.

As with all Tom Cruise movie vehicles of the past decade, the persistent storyline of the movie promotion is that he does his own stunts. This has been said about him since the Mission: Impossible 2 days when he was beginning the movie by free climbing some rock face. So, after three seconds of watching a video where people were hyping TG: Maverick, they pointed out that Cruise is piloting these jets himself.

And so that makes you wonder how well he's trained to do this?
And what is the insurance policy on this film like?
And where are these highly technical and very expensive jets coming from that we can just hand some over to Tom Cruise like it's a financial rounding error and nobody is gonna worry about it?

(But please, remind me how we don't have money in this country to properly give asylum seekers adequate food and housing or that we can't really afford to battle climate change. Sure.)

Everything for the all-mighty God of Cinema! Please Tom Cruise, switch to guns and hammer my heart with your nostalgia bullets!

(This isn't really a review as much as a sequence of Twitter posts collected together under a thematic heading.)

But what is there to review? If you've seen Top Gun--and I can only think of four people I personally know who definitively have not--then you've already seen this movie. As far as the trailer goes, all it is doing is reminding us of what Top Gun was back in the Reagan '80s and giving it to us again. In fact, I assume that the world premiere of this movie in 2020 will just happen at the Republican National Convention and that Tom Cruise himself will rappel on stage from the rafters of the Charlotte, North Carolina Spectrum Center to nominate Donald Trump.

Back to the trailer.
Are they saving the dramatic reveal of Meg Ryan? Was Kelly McGillis even approached? Or is Tom waiting to unleash his latest hit on them to gather all of the nostalgia feelings for himself alone? See Hollywood--I know how to manipulate nostalgia as well! I used to say all the same that Tom Cruise was Insane when celebrities died. Yet even though he's increasingly involving himself in dangerous stuff, I don't worry about his safety anymore. The movie is already made. If Tom died during filming we'd know. Unless Hollywood really does own cloning technology so advanced?*

And maybe Hollywood does since it keeps cloning old ideas in new guises?

So I guess I don't know how to feel about this movie. Intellectually I want to reject it and demand new things. But I didn't go see Jupiter Rising did I? And I didn't go see Mortal Engines either did I? So I am for sure part of the problem. And if I am not squarely the demographic that Top Gun: Maverick was made for . . . then just put me on my ice floe right now and push me off into the ocean.

So, go ahead Tom! Inject your 80s nostalgia directly into my cerebellum!

* This is an oblique reference to a very distant early 2000s era Web site called "Damn Hell Ass Kings" that talked about entertainment, TV, and celebrity culture. I spent too long trying to find any evidence of its existence on the Internet and found nothing. I am confident the URL is dead and all of the content has evaporated. It's a shame. It would have worked really well within my theme of nostalgia. But if anyone knows how to find that site, let me know!