Saturday, December 22, 2018

Best of 2018

Hey, no one asked, but I'm going to give you a list of the things that I liked most in 2018--and I'm not going to divide things out into categories such as movies, television, performances, or whatever.

I'm lumping everything together into a single list of the things that I liked the most and try my best to give them a ranking of worst to best--or maybe just from least worthy to most worthy (because all of this stuff is great.)

Let's get this started!

10. SHAVING MY BEARD (personal facial choice)

I've surprised myself with how much I've enjoyed being clean-shaven in the last few months of this year. Sure, it is more work to tidy up in the morning than it used to be. But getting that grey off my face has improved my inner outlook about myself.

9. EMMA STONE (actress)

I felt like Emma Stone did five different things this year. But that is probably because I stop flipping channels whenever I see her and stop to watch. I really did enjoy Maniac on Netflix. (It felt like a weird cousin to the already weird Legion, even though neither had anything to do with each other.) And I caught up on 2017's Battle of the Sexes this year and really liked her performance as Billie Jean King.

I put her here because I think I've decided that I just like her lots and wanted to spend a bit of time celebrating her in 2018.

8. BLACKKKLANSMAN (Spike Lee movie)

As a placeholder, I had Incredibles 2 and Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse as two movies that I anticipated and enjoyed greatly this year. And these two movies are definitely On Brand for me. But when I did a quick search for 2018 movies, I was reminded that I saw Spike Lee's movie BlackKKlansman this summer. And it's no feel-good movie. But no other movie made me cry for its final ten minutes either.

HARRY POTTER PODCASTS (a. Mallory Rubin and Jason Concepcion, The Ringer podcast network & b. Vanessa Zoltan and Casper ter Kuile, formerly on the Panoply Network and now moving to Patreon)

7. (b) Harry Potter and the Sacred Text  

The Sacred Text podcast team has also been a favorite of mine for several years. In 2018 they finished Goblet of Fire and have been walking through Order of the Phoenix chapter-by-chapter. Their divinity school training, textural and spiritual interpretive practises, their compassionate insights, and guests make each episode something new.

6. (a) Binge Mode: Harry Potter Binge Mode first hit the scene a few years ago when Mallory and Jason went through every episode of the HBO series Game of Thrones and also expounded on how much they loved George R.R. Martin's novels. Once they were done with that marathon, they teased listeners with the equally gargantuan task of diving into their deep love of J.K. Rowling's novels as well as their views on the growing movie franchise. The HP focus started this summer and as the end of the year approaches, they still aren't done. But their insights and fun are worth the time and the wait.

5. ATLANTA (FX, hiatus between season 2 and season 3)

If you spend any time watching quality television, you don't need me to tell you how good Atlanta is. Always great storytelling. Frequently great photography. Excellent, surprising acting. If you haven't seen the Teddy Perkins episode, give yourself 45 minutes to get really creeped out by one of the most unexpected episodes of television you'll never be able to imagine.

4. HAVING KIDS (perpetual commitment)

As you probably know, Sarah moved out for college this fall. And even though we see her quite often (she's only 15 miles downtown), it is nice to watch her explore this new space and search for herself more directly. It's nice to catch up on the weekends and get a glimpse of the good (and sometimes bad) things that she is facing on her own.

And that is only her! Grace is so busy with school, extracurriculars, and a bevy of friends. She makes me so proud every day for how she sees and moves in the world. She is simply excellent.

And then there is Hannah, who doesn't deserve to be listed last every time because she is always challenging my parental comforts--reminding me to not be complacent with my parenting, to stay engaged, to respond to her curiosity and her energy; reminding me that this is HER first time through these challenges and I need to treat them with the same level of commitment and excitement that she deserves. She's still figuring out who she is and she's helping me remind myself of who I want to be.

3. KILLING EVE (BBC America, season 2 going on right now) 

Full disclosure on this one. I didn't start watching the first season of this show until Last Night. Other media critics told me that it was really good and once I finally got around to verifying it, I could not have been happier. I knew very quickly that it was going on my list right away. I have a fondness of spy shows and I definitely like shows with a sense of humor. This show handles both elements so well. And I can't highly recommend it more strongly. You should watch it.

2. ADVENTURE ZONE (The McElroy Brothers, Maximum Fun podcast network, biweekly)

I knew of the McElroy's before this year and even before I started liking their content. But I didn't really become a fan until sometime in the spring or summer of 2018. And while I'm about a decade behind on their flagship MBMBAM (My Brother, My Brother, and Me) podcast I entered the 'verse by binding through The Adventure Zone--first the Balance arc and now listening to the Amnesty arc. The McElroys are first and foremost funny. But they are also sweet and humane and likable guys. They are creative and energetic and just fun to experience. Really, really great!

1. KIDDING (Showtime, hiatus between season 1 and season 2)

I tweeted a lot about this show when I was watching it. So you might not be surprised to see this one high on my list. I can't think of another show or media experience that so surprised me this year. I knew that I liked the pairing of Michael Gondry and Jim Carrey (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) and I was intrigued to see Carrey back in the spotlight after I had watched the documentary about his struggles in recent years. And I liked the idea of him playing a Fred Rogers-esque children show host. What I wasn't ready for was the heart and the compassion that was shown in this show, even when it was wrapped around a lot of individually-bad behavior and choices. There are several flawed people on this show--definitely including Carrey's Mr. Pickles. But the way that Pickles tries to make others see the good in each other and find the good in himself was really touching.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

2018: A Casual Christmas Card

2018 doesn't need fanfare. It just needs to be done so that we can get busy with a new year.
Here's hoping you keep it casual this Christmas and charge up for whatever comes your way next.

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Football Counter-Programming 2018: Conference Champions Week

After an unscheduled and unannounced absence in Weeks 11 and 12, Football Counter-Programming made a triumphant return in Week 13 . . . just in time to witness Ohio State's triumphant return to prominence and relevancy.

But that is as much football-specific talk as you are going to get in this post. Because I know what the title of this post is and I know what I'm doing here. I trying to get you to do something other than watch college football on a Saturday. And that is only harder to accomplish in late November and early December when most places are cold, gray, and all you really want to do is sit inside and stay warm, eating snacks and vegging out.

But NO! I say NO!

In place of (semi-professional) amateur gridiron, let's talk about Harry Potter. Well . . . specifically let's talk about Newt Scamander and the Fantastic Beasts film franchise that he is the titular (if no longer truly the content driver of) movie hero of.

A few weeks ago I went to see FB2: TCoG and well, I guess it was fine. For a movie that had little to no connection to the charity-based "textbook" the title is based upon . . . it was fine. It was much better than Peter Jackson's three Hobbit movies that played a similar game of taking source material and bloating it out into as many movie tickets as it could get away with.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Gindelwald was a visually pleasing film with some adequate plot elements. And I like the actors by-and-large--with the de rigueur vilification of Johnny Depp implied, you understand? I very much like Jude Law's Dumbledore portrayal and it almost made me forget what a young Pope he is. But . . . the cinematic reveal at the end of the film was viewed by me, in the moment, as a drastic and very concerning up-ending of Potterverse canon. (If you don't know what I'm talking about it is either because you could not care less or because you just haven't seen the movie. Please use your favorite search engine to discover the awful truth for yourself.)

ANDBUTSO . . . I've listened to podcasts and read the Internet since the movie watching and I am confidently holding out hope for a sensible resolution in films 3-5--assuming of course that the public wasn't so turned off by FB2 that there is no financial stomach to even make the remaining films. If that ends up being the case, then I'm sure J.K. Rowling and the WizardingWorld publishing machine will give us hard-copy versions of the screenplays that were never filmed so that we know what might have been.

But truly--and this is the real reason that I even decided to write about this topic in the first place--what I WANT out of all of this is a canonical, hard-copy version of Rita Skeeter's The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore. It was the tell-all book that shook poor Harry to the core in the wandering parts of Deathly Hallows. It forced the reader to reevaluate what we knew about Albus PWB. And, in no small measure, it is the content spine of FB2 and what we can now assume are the plots of FB3-FB5.

Let's just have the book, shall we?

Until that day comes and we get the books we richly deserve, just remember. It's doesn't matter if your alma mater's special teams coach is a Ravenclaw. If they aren't playing in a conference championship game today you can kiss goodbye their (non Notre Dame) chances of making it into the CFP Final 4.

Have a fun non-football weekend.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Football Counter-Programming 2018: Week 13

Did you notice that I haven’t posted a Football Counter-Programming piece the last two weeks previous? It’s OK if you didn’t.

And I don’t have a lot to say today anyway. I know there’s very little chance of me convincing anyone to not be watching a big-time rivalry game on the Saturday after Thanksgiving when you’re busy digesting a big meal, putting up decorations, or just hanging out on the weekend.

So all I’ll say is this--the biggest news out of today’s football game is that neither Ohio State nor Michigan is wearing weird, nontraditional promotional uniforms.

Saturday, November 03, 2018

Football Counter-Programming 2018: Week 10

I'm up very early to help the Westerville North Marching Band one last time this season. It's one final competition that might be over by 7:30 pm or--if they get good enough scores and get to compete in the finals--done by 12:30 am tomorrow.


But since I'll be away from everything all day long, here is a video taken with my GoPro camera on the top of one of the trombone player's head from Friday evening's final practice session.

Until next week, please remember that the band members are athletes too.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Football Counter-Programming 2018: Week 9 Bye-Week

Every football season has one. And so even Football Counter-Programming must take a week off each season. Sometimes I've got other stuff to do. Sometimes I'm just not feeling it.

Which is it this year?

It doesn't matter.

Just let the sense of mystery build within you so that you are ready and waiting next week when I resume distracting you from the waste of time that is college football.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Football Counter-Programming 2018: Week 8

Here are some things that you may already know about me.

First--two of my favorite characters on the great TV show, LOST, were the one-and-done side characters Nikki and Paulo.

Second--my favorite titles in the Chronicles of Narnia series is The Magicians Nephew.

(If you don't happen to know what these stories are about, please follow the provided links and learn more.)

From these facts, you may then be able to deduce that I enjoy seeing familiar stories from a new angle, sometimes retold with a different perspective. An attempt to broaden the narrative in new, creative, and exciting ways.

I am a committed counter-programmer after all--trying to fight against the accepted hegemony of weekend college football on each and every Saturday.

This is all preamble to give you background to what I am going to explain now . . .

A week ago I was surfing Facebook and saw a Young Adult novel title generator meme on one of my friend's Fb feeds (shout out to you Nancy). You used the first letter of your last name, the month and day you were born to randomly select three phrases. These phrases are the title of the YA novel you should write. After I plugged in the information, I got FRENCH KISSES, ASSASSINS, AND OTHER NATURAL DISASTERS.

Now, I don't have to explain to you what an excellent title for a YA novel that is. It has single-handedly motivated me to seriously consider writing this manuscript in ways that few other things in my recent adult life have done. But it has also reawakened in me an idea that I once had . . . to a.) either pair up with a teen and cowrite alternate chapters from teen and adult perspectives or b.) to write a YA novel from a parent's POV.

Admittedly, I haven't spent any time yet investigating whether or not these ideas already exist in accomplished form. But even if they do, that doesn't mean that I shouldn't do it anyway.

The first option was born sometime after I read David Levithan and John Green's co-written novel Will Grayson/Wil Grayson. Levithan and Green alternative chapters of this novel, telling the stories of two different young men with similar names. I originally wanted to partner with Sarah--back when she still talked about being an author. But I don't know if that is a viable option any longer. Grace is already quite busy with her own high school career. And I don't think I can wait for Hannah's writing skill to round out enough. So, I could either hire some other teen to work with me (not nearly as much fun as working with family) or go on to option b.).

Option B is like telling Harry Potter's tale from the perspective of Mr. Weasley. He is definitely not involved in every crucial moment, but he is close enough to the action to draw you into it when you need some jolt of familiar plot drama. But he is close enough to the action to know what is happening to the others around him without things becoming deadly boring and pointless. And it definitely provides a compelling point of view, right?

To be clear, I am not talking about writing fan fiction of an existing novel. I am not writing The Fault in Her Stars--as seen from the perspective of Hazel Grace's father. I'm talking about creating a whole new YA sub-genre, where the fans of the books can experience the familiar (or slightly familiar) beats of the books they love to read, but with a new outlook. Would they want to read those stories? I have no clue. That is up to the publishing company to figure out.

All I've got to do is find a way to start writing.

But I know I can't begin until after this season of college football is over. But I can't let you forget the following . . .

No matter how much you might imagine the deep inner life of the starting right guard on your alma mater's offensive line, you can never account for the fact that he probably just wants to play Fortnite and each Cheetos. Because . . . don't we all?

Until next week, just be honest with yourself and with each other. And the world will start to be a better place.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Football Counter-Programming 2018: Week 7

I don't know what to write about this week. So I am afraid that you are slipping into bad habits and settling down to spend several hours watching college football. That fear is intensified by the fact that --here in Ohio, at least--the autumn gloom has finally started to set in. The day's light is gray, the clouds envelop the sky, and the ground is wet from yesterday night's persistent rain. Ah . . . the midwest in October!

Some of you, I know, are busy recovering from the effects of Hurricane Michael. You're first and foremost counting your blessings. But you're also counting the limbs strewn about your yards. And you're finding chainsaws to dispose of downed trees. You are taking stock, helping others, and--in some cases--waiting for power, boiling water, and assessing your food situation.

Luckily, no one I know personally is also facing the loss of a loved one. And that makes me thankful indeed.

All to say that some of you are doing anything BUT worrying about the pointless travails of college football. So, please know that I am not talking directly to you, but I am thinking of you just the same.

Now . . . as for the rest of you! 

You are most likely not facing the grimness of a midwestern day. You are most definitely not recovering from more severe weather events. And so, I ask you . . . what are YOU doing instead of watching college football?

As for me, I spent my time in the shower this morning dreaming up a post I could write today. But to do it well, I would need to spend more time than I am doing now, just dashing off some stream-of-consciousness thing to fill the space. (And, that probably means that I won't do it next week either. Because I won't build in the time necessary to write what I am imagining effectively. And because, when I am done with this post, I won't try to type some notes capturing the phrases that I had in my head only minutes before. And so, as always, this blog serves as a record of missed opportunities and paths not taken.

What are the missed opportunities in your life? What might you have done but chose not to do? What versions of yourself are living other lifestyles in multiple alternative universes that you will never discover?

Maybe today, my challenge to you . . . instead of watching college football . . . is to sit down and make a list of five or six moments in your past that you could have made a different choice. Was it a friendship missed or a relationship dissolved? Was it a college not attended or a subject not studied? Was it a job left hanging?

Write down these moments. Then consider what they could have led to in your life. Is there someone you should catch up with?  Is there some hobby you should commit more time to--an acknowledgment of a part interest that you think is impractical? Is there a source of happiness that you could resurrect in your life today, based on something you might have done before?

Look at your list. Jot down some notes. Consider what might be different.

And, also, please don't forget that your starting center on the offensive line had his own opportunity to take a scholarship at your rival opponent's school. Everything might be different for him and for you. So, don't take it all so personally, okay?

Until next week . . . 

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Football Counter-Programming 2018: Week 6

Welcome everyone to another week of Football Counter-Programming. This, as always, is my personal attempt to distract you from college football on Saturday. How is it going for you so far this season? How many games have you missed? What have you done in place of slavishly sinking into the hegemony of semi-professional non-professional athletics?

Last week I kept my day away from football by being outside almost exclusively, assisting at Grace's first marching band competition in Lebanon, Ohio. And this Saturday it is more of the same. This weekend's competition is closer to Kentucky and the performance time is closer to midday than evening. So, we depart much earlier in the morning and drive longer. But we will get back home before Sunday begins.

Andbutso . . . what shall I talk about this week? Well, I'm going to repurpose someone else's content today. (When do I not do that, I guess?)

Several months ago, I was toiling through some sort of work-related spreadsheet and listening to podcasts--one of which is John Green's super twee podcast that seems an auditory spiritual cousin to Charles Kuralt's original CBS Sunday Morning show.

And during this particular episode, John  describing how John and his Chicago (post-college) roommates were watching CNN in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. One of John's roommates (Hassan) had family living in Kuwait and Hassan had not heard from them.

"So one evening just after the U.S.-led forces had entered Baghdad, we were all watching the news on the couch together. New footage was being broadcast from the city and we watched as a cameraman panned across a home with a huge hole in one of its walls--that was mostly covered by a piece of plywood.
There was angry-looking Arabic grafitti scrawled in black spray paint on the plywood and the reporter on the news was talking about the anger in the street and the hatred. And Hassan started to laugh.
I asked him what was so funny and he said: "The graffiti." And I said "What's funny about it?" And he said "It says 'Happy birthday sir, despite the circumstances.'"
On a minute-by-minute basis, it's really hard for any of us to consider the Happy Birthday Sir, Despite the Circumstances possibility. We project our expectations and fears and etcetera on everyone and everything we encounter. We believe that what we believe to be true must be true because we believe it. We imagine lives that feel distant from ours monolithically. We oversimplify. And we forget that everyone has birthdays. . . . 
[W]hen we can't read what's on the plywood, but still think we know what it says, we're spreading ignorance and bigotry. Not peace and friendship."

[transcribed from Episode 7 of John Green's podcast "The Anthropocene Reviewed" beginning at time stamp 16:55]

I started formulating this idea as a draft several months ago and that is when I was struck by these words. I think the sentiment is a helpful one to consider no matter when you happen to read this post or under what circumstances this post comes to you.

May we each try a little harder to remember that everyone--even the place kicker who is trying really hard to beat your alma mater this weekend--has a birthday.

And from that realization, let us try to see a bit more of ourselves in each person we encounter--whether it happens to be their birthday that day or not.

See you next week!

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Football Counter-Programming 2018: Week 5

It's week five! Are you still watching football on Saturdays? But the weather is actually, truly getting nice now! The leaves are starting to (or maybe are) change. There is a crispness in the air! There was got to be something more fun for you to be doing.

Take me for example.

I'm currently in/on my way to Lebanon, Ohio to help Grace's high school marching band with their first marching band competition of the season. I'll be awash with sound, hopefully, some bring sunshine, and an enjoyable afternoon and evening. And it'll have all the best things about football games (the band) with none of the less enjoyable things (the actual football).

In light of that, I'm linking today to my entry into this year's Fall TV preview to carry to content load this weekend. (Yeah . . . I'm still writing these posts--even if I can barely get my heart into it anymore.)

So, please click the link placed below the image below to take a look at my entry this year.

Click here to view the post.

Thanks for stopping by again this weekend and remember . . . no matter how much film and video study your alma mater's right tackle does next week, he probably won't pick up that blitz package in time . . . or . . . something like that.

Go outside!

Friday, September 28, 2018

Fall TV Preview 2018

This is getting harder to do every year.

In part that is because I am watching less and less of the Big Box networks shows with each passing season. It's not helped by the fact that I stopped my Entertainment Weekly subscription, so I'm not getting a fat issue with lots of synopses and helpful programming guides. And further, the fragmentation of the television "season" is so complete now that treating the start of new shows in September as an event worth noting . . . well, those days are gone as well.

At least Dean is on the case with a quality summary of what he thinks about all the shows on cable and streaming. (And I really regret handing that job over to him, because that is clearly where all the interest is these days.)

Still, I'll try to put this together this year--even if it is in a much more abbreviated and simplified form than you've seen in the past. I'll combine all the networks and nights into this one post and just leave it at that. Easy-peasy. But I'll categorize the shows I want to talk about into a few categories to give you some sense of what I think it worth examining and what you should just skip. It's going to be down-and-dirty stuff this year  But really, that is what normcore TV deserves in 2018.

(If it is not really clear . . . this won't be a comprehensive list of all the shows coming back this year. If you want something more elaborate, I'm sure you can find stuff on the Internet.)

CATEGORY -1: Oh God! My EYES!!

Magnum P.I. (CBS, September 24): If you are familiar even a bit with the history of television, I don't think I need to explain to you the premise of this show. What else but the Tom Selleck original did more to popularize Ferrari in the United States? What else could possibly make Hawaiian print shirts a viable wardrobe choice? But I'm going to reject this show sight unseen because whatever poor actor they've hired to take on the thankless task of replacing the original is NOT sporting a mustache. (I mean, of course he isn't . . . but still . . . no thanks.)

Young Sheldon (CBS): I didn't support it last year and I'm definitely NOT interested in year two.

New Amsterdam (NBC, September 25): I have a visceral dislike of this show, simply because it glorifies the doctors as so earnest and so humane. It just makes every cynical nerve in my body tingle. Pass.

A Million Little Things (ABC, September 26):  Below you will see my opinions on This is Us. I'm not being as charitable to an unknown clone of that show. So, A Million Little Things will be placed here.

Murphy Brown (CBS, September 27):  I didn't need a reboot of this show. If I didn't watch Newsroom, I don't need to watch a less expensive, less original version of that show to try and tell me how to think.

The Cool Kids (FOX, September 28): Vicki Lawrence (yes, THAT one) and Martin Mull are teaming up with David Alan Grier to be old, cranky retirees. The fact that it is written by Charlie Day may make it appealing to some. But not to me.

Last Man Standing (FOX, September 28): Speaking of old and cranky . . . shut up Tim Allen. I hope that you agree with the retrograde stuff your character says on this show . . . only because if you DON'T then it makes it even worse.

God Friended Me (CBS, September 30): On theological grounds alone I must strongly reject this show.

CATEGORY 0: Meh . . . I Guess I'll Watch TV Tonight

Castaways (ABC, August 7): This new reality show might already have come and gone. The only difference between it and Survivor or anything else is that the contestants are all placed separately. (At least, that is what you the viewer are being told. Everything is all acting anyway.)

9-1-1 (Fox, September 23): This super dramatic police "drama?" was a bit hit with viewers and media last year. It was super sensational and at least somewhat based on headline-ripping plots. This year, Jennifer Love-Hewitt joins the cast. So, if you've been wondering what she's been up to since you loved her in high school . . . well, you won't find out from watching the show, I guess. It's not written like that. But maybe that will motivate you to watch it?

The Big Bang Theory (CBS, September 24): The only reason this is noteworthy is due to the fact that this represents the final season of this long-running, super popular series. I quit watching about two years ago and I don't regret that choice at all. It is the equivalent of mashed potatoes and gravy. As long as you aren't buying it from KFC, you know exactly what you'll be getting and chances are if you've made the choice, you are happy even before you take the first bite.

Manifest (NBC, September 24): The description I read begins with "What if they remade LOST but . . ." That is enough to at least make me consider paying attention. But I know that the end result will likely be disappointing. Still . . . plane travelers experience time-based air turbulence might equal something interesting at least?

The Gifted (FOX, September 25): I tried this show a bit last year, but it never engaged me enough to stick with it past five or six episodes. Some of the preview commercials I've seen make it look interesting. Maybe you should consider giving it a try this year?

This is Us (NBC, September 25): Look, if I was only writing this post for myself, I would put This is US squarely in Category -1. I don't need that sort of emotional manipulation in my life. But I realize that lots of people really like this show, so in deference to all of you--I'll keep my negativity (mostly) to myself.

CATEGORY 1: I'm Shoutin' This From the Mountaintops!

The Good Place (NBC, September 27): This may very well be the ONLY entry in this best category. There just isn't that much interesting television left on the major networks any longer. (And even the term major networks is misleading and a relic of the past.) Be that as it may, The Good Place is great TV. It's clever, well-written, and it has a good heart. Please watch it.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Dean's Fall Cable + Streaming TV Preview

Welcome back to another series of Fall TV thoughts--now in its fourteenth year.

It feels like things are off to a very, very late start this year . . . and that feeling is almost certainly 100 % correct. But--well--I can't do anything about that because all of the Time Turners were destroyed in the Department of Mysteries back in 1996.

So, we just have to move on the best we can. And the best way to begin to stop the grieving process is to rely on my friend and reliable guest blogger Dean. He has put in the work and has kindly provided me with the start of this season's Fall TV Previews, focusing on Cable and Steaming shows. Please ignore the fact that almost all of this has already begun and the word Preview is being used as a sort of brand convention rather than as an actual descriptor of timeliness. --David

There’s a lot of TV so here’s the deal.

I’m not listing most of the streaming shows because there are a billion of them and streaming shows are ultimately pretty disposable because everyone watches them at a different pace and it’s impossible to talk about them with other people.

I also won’t mention late night shows because, my God people, how many of these shows can you people watch? *Stares seriously at camera* Trump is bad. *Everyone cheers*

Also . . . reality shows won’t be listed here, as they are not my particular cup of tea. Finally, most of these have already started airing so this is too late to be useful to you. Sorry. [Don't worry Dean, I've already apologized for you.--DTM]

Venture Brothers Adult Swim (Currently Airing) As we all remember, last season on the Venture Brothers…uh…Brock Sampson…uh does something. OK--wait . . . the Monarch and Doctor…Girlfriend? No, wait, Mrs. Doctor Girlfriend? Mrs. Doctor Wife? Crap! I have no idea what happened. It was so long ago. This show is never on, but now it’s back! One of the characters is named Dean which is great!

Better Call Saul AMC (Currently Airing) When Jimmy finally goes full Saul it will break my heart. If you liked Breaking Bad you have no excuse not to watch this. If you didn’t like Breaking Bad because of the violence, this show is much less violent so you have no excuse! Plus this show is better than Breaking Bad either way. [I love this show and one of the main reasons why is because it is universally praised and it CONSISTENTLY features almost fifteen minutes of silence per episode. The script writing for this show must be a fucking BREEZE.--DTM]

Wrecked TBS (Currently Airing) The first season of this “Lost but a comedy series” was really good and I think you’ll like it. This is the best TBS comedy since My Boys. (That may not be true, I just wanted to plug My Boys and demand more work for Jordana Spiro.) [Please also try to find room in your heart--and space on your DVR--for the other TBS show "Search Party." Season 2 of SP was good, I promise!--DTM]

Ballers HBO (Currently Airing) Do you wish Entourage was still on but starred the Rock? Well, I have some good news for you!

Insecure HBO (Currently Airing) Everyone says this show is great but I have to take their word for it as I did not have HBO when the previous seasons of this show aired.

Crime + Punishment Netflix (Available for Streaming) I love this novel--so why not watch this?
. . . *actually checks listing*
OK, so this is, in fact, an award-winning documentary about corrupt and racist NYPD cops--not the seminal novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky? Please, Netflix, greenlight a Dostoyevsky series! You’re throwing money away not airing the Brothers Karamazov. It could be the next Downton Abbey!

Ozark Netflix (Available for Streaming) Jordana Spiro is in this and no one told me. I hate my friends.

Jack Ryan Amazon (Available for Streaming) Fact: John Krasinski is the best actor to have ever played the role of Jack Ryan.

Mayans M.C. FX (Currently Airing) I would like Kurt Sutter-helmed shows more if there was someone around to tell him no. An hour of Kurt Sutter per week is fine. Two hours of Kurt Sutter per week is too much. Unsurprisingly, Sutter's wife shows up in the first episode. (Katey Sagal is great so this is not a complaint.)

The Purge USA (Currently Airing) If I could do crime one night a year it would definitely not be murder. I felt bad about ripping tags off of mattresses for like a year, so no murder for me. I would probably just jaywalk a lot.

Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia FXX (Currently Airing) Despite Glenn Howerton’s commitments on AP Bio he has made time to join the gang as they drag every person they encounter down to their level.

Iron Fist Netflix (Available for Streaming) You can’t make me watch this. [Don't worry. I'll keep you well informed . . . as soon as I get around to finishing it.--DTM]

FLCL Alternative Adult Swim (Currently Airing) The horn is a metaphor for obviousness.

The Deuce HBO (Currently Airing) If you watch this and you have children, just be warned that they will come down at the worst possible moment and you will pause the TV at the worst possible second.

Kidding Showtime (Currently Airing) Jim Carrey should work on his painting because I have no use for him as an actor. [Look, I'm not here to try and convince you the Jim Carrey is Olivier or Brando. But Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Truman Show are really good movies. Maybe that is despite Jim Carrey. But I don't think people would have paid attention to them otherwise. And the world is better with these entertainments in it. Is the world better for having Kidding in it also? Still too early to say, but I am watching. My only direct criticism so far is the overreliance on sexuality in a few spots. But that is, I suppose, the price of doing business on premium cable.--DTM]

Shameless Showtime (Currently Airing) How is this show still going on? This is the Simpsons of prestige cable dramedies.

American Horror Story: Apocalypse FX (Currently Airing) Ryan Murphy takes on Marvel’s greatest villain. [That's an AHS I would consider watching. Otherwise, nope.--DTM]

Snatch Crackle (Currently Airing) Did you know there was a TV version of Guy Ritchie’s film Snatch? I did not. I also don’t know what Crackle is so good luck finding the 2nd season of this show.

American Vandal Netflix (Available for Streaming) If you liked Serial, you’ll love this spoof of Serial that is somehow also an incisive look at the ethics of these kinds of podcasts. [I am VERY excited to begin watching AV s2 very soon!--DTM]

BoJack Horseman Netflix (Available for Streaming) I do not like this show but am also happy that Will Arnett finally has a successful leading role.

Norm Macdonald Has a Show Netflix (Available for Streaming) Norm Macdonald hosts a talk show where he doesn’t talk about current events. To demonstrate why he wouldn’t talk about current events, he immediately offended everyone with his #MeToo comments and then his apology made things worse. There is no doubt that he did it on purpose. [I have never had any time for Macdonald's style of humor or his point of view. And I don't even know the particulars of this latest SNAFU.--DTM]

The Good Cop Netflix (Available for Streaming) I’m only mentioning this show because my SEO advisor says a mention of Josh Groban will get at least one more click than otherwise would have been the case. Tony Danza is there too.

Maniac Netflix (Available for Streaming) Cary Fukunaga is a fantastic director and Emma Stone is a fantastic actress so this should be good! (Jonah Hill is also there.) [This is one of the reasons why I haven't finished Luke Cage, Iron Fist, or started American Vandal. So far I have enjoyed the first two episodes. But someone remind me who Fukunaga is. Is he the guy that is going to be directing the next series of Bond movies? He's NOT the same guy who directs Atlanta, right? Why am I getting this mixed up.--DTM]

Mr. Inbetween FX (September 25th) I know nothing about this show but I watch pretty much anything on FX so I’ll be watching this. This sounds like a cry for help, and to be honest, it probably is.

South Park Comedy Central (September 26th) Someday someone is going to dig up a past episode of South Park to try and kill Matt and Trey’s career--James Gunn style. And I’m 50/50 on whether that will end up working.

God Friended Me CBS (September 30th) I’m crowding in on David’s turf just to say this is the worst named show since Selfie. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this show will not be as good as Selfie was. [Hold on . . . first, now you're just forcing me to have to evaluate this likely terrible show when I write my own post. Damnit. And secondly . . . was Selfie the show with my beloved Karen Gillan? Because if not, I have no memory of Selfie at all.--DTM] 

Doctor Who BBC America (October 6th) The doctor is . . . a woman!? Really looking forward to all the articles highlighting the same three outraged tweets from accounts with 50 total followers. Never gets old.

Daredevil Netflix (October 19th) Everyone’s favorite visually-impaired superhero is back soothing his Catholic guilt by getting beaten to a pulp before overcoming the odds to save Hells Kitchen yet again. [Well, when you describe it like that . . . --DTM]

DuckTales Disney Channel (October 20th) Woo ooh! [Tried it last year. Pass.--DTM]

The Guest Room TBS (October 23rd) This charming show introduced me to honeyhoney and I really enjoy them. Listen to honeyhoney because they’re great.

Deutschland 86 Sundance TV (October 25th) Deutschland 83 was about a reluctant East German spy struggling to fulfill his duties while slowly embracing life in the West. I assume Deutschland 86 is about that but set 3 years later! (Deutschland 83 was excellent and now that The Americans is over you know you need a good spy show.) [I've not seen Deutschland of any year. But I would recommend Starz Counterpart as a good spy show witha fun sci-fi twist. True . . . I've still not finished watching season one on my DVR. But I KNOW that the J.K. Simmons-led drama is definitely my tempo.--DTM]

House of Cards Netflix (November 2nd) Kevin Spacey is dead now and Princess Buttercup is here to do whatever it is that happens on this show that people in Washington love because they think it flatters them somehow.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs Netflix (November 16th) The Cohen Brothers are making a Netflix show and I couldn’t be happier. Everything they touch is great except for The Ladykillers and Burn After Reading. Those were not good.

Watership Down Netflix (December 25th) Really excited for this show to traumatize a whole new generation of children with fields of blood. [Nothing says Happy Christmas like a bloody, enraged General Woundwort! I'm totally ready for this show! --DTM]

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Football Counter-Programming 2018: Week 4

Welcome back to another weekend of Football Counter-Programming, my seasonal attempt to "disrupt" your social media feeds with non-football content.

This week, I'm talking about the problem with automated cars . . .

If we accept that automated cars are the future, then you have to admit that our relationship with cars and the daily experience of travel must in the future be different. So, in order to get in your car to go to the grocery store, you will need to have a negotiation with your car. Do you know the specific address of the Kroger that you are aiming for? You can't simply get in the car and drive. Those days are over. You need to type in an address--often with a touchscreen keyboard or some other clunky interface. Or if you don't want to do that, you will need to speak to your car to tell it where to go. Given your experience with Siri, do you think that saying Hey Vinnie the Van . . . I want to go to the neighborhood Kroger store. is going to work? We all know that text-to-speech recognition is not very good. It's a very good chance that Vinnie will respond "OKAY. I HAVE FOUND RESULTS FOR WINNIE THE POOH AT THE NIGHTENGALE YOGURT STORE FOR YOU."

If we accept automated cars, then where is the freedom of just getting in a car to . . . go? This takes  the freedom that the car originally gave to us. Now you have willingly enslaved yourself to the robot that tells you what to do. Is this not the opposite of progress?

Progress is often couched in terms of increased efficiency. But if ruthless efficiency is the only goal for which we strive, then where is the spirit of invention? Where is that unplanned moment of chaotic discovery?

Star Trek always portrayed the future of the human race as perfected in such a way to allow everyone the freedom to do whatever they wanted with their own set of unique skills and talents and desires. The automated mobile future that we are aiming for would take a small piece of our individual right to choose to ramble and remove it from our grasp.

My brother used to tell stories about when he would get in his car and just drive around the back roads of our hometown--going nowhere in particular, but finding out how all those nowheres connected to each other and where they returned home again.. I always thought that was an  interesting vision, imagining him driving on the dirt roads of Tift County, headed nowhere in particular. Maybe I’ve not had that same level of adventure in my own life, but robot cars are conspiring to take that away my future improvements.

Until next week, please remember . . . the buses that bring your football team to the stadium might run on natural gas. But that is still not as efficient as solar power.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Football Counter-Programming 2018: Week 3

Call me a dick if you want.
Call me a Quisling. 
Say that I lack commitment.

But . . . this--specifically the gif below--is my default online response about a great deal of the political gotcha posts that I see on social media regarding Trump, any politician, whatever . . .

via Gfycat

Everyone is so desperate to find a way to get Trump out of office. But I think that they are missing the very real fact that any result of removing Trump requires a political will from the Right (and enough bloodthirstiness from the Left) that I just don't see as a reality.

Just think about where we are right now in the United States: we have members within the Administration opening (if anonymously) admitting that they handle Trump like Dudley Dursley. And others are openly speculating about whether there are enough justifiable grounds to Constitutionally remove him from office.

And every time one of these things pops up in the news, we rush to crow about it and to hit the WE GOT HIM button.

But three days later, there he sits and people sit around bewildered and ask, "Didn't we get him this time?"

Again, let me be clear. I don't' like that Trump is president. I think he is spectacularly bad at it and is unquestionably unqualified/unprepared for the job. I think the fact that he IS, in fact, the president is a reflection of a great many of the Worst Tendencies of being An American that just keeps growing and becoming more prominent each year.

But all of that does not mean that I am a willing participant in this social media-driven bitch fest that defines so much of our national conversation. No matter how many posts I throw up on my feed . . .

I asked my friend to make this for me. It is funny.

. . . it won't give Republicans a sense of the Right Thing to Do. And it won't help the Democrats get organized and grow a spine.

And you should, should, SHOULD find ways to do the right thing and to call out what is wrong and to model the best behavior and demand the best from the people that operate in our government. But I guess I'm weary of people thinking social media criticism adds up to the final straw that will break the camels back.

Obviously--and as always--this isn't new and my opinions are adding up to precisely just as much as you paid to read this.

So, go back to your football I guess.

But remember . . . you can post cell phone video of the dumb ass rally for the embattled coach that happened at the stadium. But it won't make the suspension wrap up any quicker.

See you next week.

Saturday, September 08, 2018

Football Counter-Programming 2018: Week 2

Welcome back to another week of Football Counter-Programming--my weekly attempt to distract you from the hegemony of college football social media posts.

How do I do that, you may wonder? Usually, it involves opening up my browser and starting to write about whatever crosses my mind. But this week, I had a plan and was all set to write about American politics. But then, on Friday I heard this: "She has a very consistent style that works for her. She's kind of the embodiment of Mom Jeans".

So say the hosts of a podcast that I listened to about Jennifer Garner--who has a new older-person actiony style movie Peppermint out in theaters today. (So say they . . . think a female version of Liam Neeson's Taken.)

So, turning on a dime, I saved that draft post on politics, doctored up the image you see above, and sat down to write about one of my favorite actors of the past thirty years. How favorite? I truly have considered going out this weekend to spend money to watch Peppermint. I have no idea if the movie is any good. In fact, the podcast hosts definitely said that it was NOT good. But even so, I would very much go against type and venture (most likely alone) on opening weekend to see a random movie starring Jennifer Garner presumably righting wrongs Joan Wick-style with fists, kicks, and a bit of artfully placed blood.

To stress again, I have NO IDEA what Peppermint is about. I just know that it hearkens me back to when Jennifer Garner was a young, fresh-faced (if severely cheekboned) actor convincing me that Sydney Bristow could handle the dual worlds of college student and international spy. Alias--in case you are not familiar--was a weekly TV companion of mine. It was my twin J.J. Abrams love, alongside LOST. The plots of the show were bananas much of the time, the feats of spycraft only exceeded by those of Chuck Bartowski and Sarah Walker.

Garner has moved on in her life, to kids, on-again/off-again times with Ben Affleck, Capital One credit card commercials, and whatever else. But I'll likely never fully move on. (Heck, I have seriously considered getting a Rambaldi tattoo--in the correct location, btw. But I haven't done it . . . yet.)

I want Garner to keep making things. I liked Thirteen Going on 30. (Or was it 13 Going on Thirty? Or maybe 13 Going on 30? Well, it definitely wasn't Thirteen Going on Thirty.) I tolerated the non-Netflix Daredevil and even watched some of Elektra. I wasn't too sad when she started playing mom roles as in Juno. If Peppermint helps her pay the bills or maybe helps Ben pay his rehab bills, then good for her. It won't win any Academy Awards--and it won't even have a shot at the now delayed Popular Movie category. But actors gotta act.

So, look for me at the central Ohio movie theaters this weekend with a smile on my face and a fresh tattoo of a fictional Renaissance inventor/mystic. If anyone asks "What's in my wallet?" I'll cheerfully say that it is lighter by approximately $11.50.

Saturday, September 01, 2018

Football Counter-Programming 2018: Week 1

It’s time for a new season of Football Counter-Programming: that time of year when I make weekly attempts to distract you from endless social media posts about football with something else of my choosing. 

This week--inspired by a discussion I had at lunch on Friday--I’m asking:

Who is your favorite fictional president?

A few bits of explanation. I want you to focus on actors or actresses who have portrayed a fictional president. That means completely made-up characters who served as the vessels of all that we think is good and right about our American democracy. That does not include actors who have portrayed actual presidents in movies based on historical events. So . . . that eliminates performances such as John Travolta's barely hidden characterization of Bill Clinton in Primary Colors. And it also means that no matter how much you liked Daniel Day-Lewis' portrayal of Abraham Lincoln (in the imaginatively named movie Lincoln), he’s not considered here. 

I’ll give you my top five. Leave a comment arguing for your favorite that I left out. You can search on the Internet for all kinds of lists giving you information and videos and plot summaries of each of these men--and even some women!

But first--an Honorable Mention that I just have to include--

Charlie Sheen's portrayal of President Rathcock in the movie Machete Kills-not because I like Charlie Sheen, or because I’ve seen the movie, or even because I have any idea what Sheen is like as a fictional present, I just like the idea of a president Rathcock--something that would absolutely never happen in actual American politics.

Number Five

How about Morgan Freeman as President Beck in the movie Deep Impact. Definitely a fictional president shaped by catastrophe--as so many fake presidents are. But when the moment arrived, President Beck took advantage of good speech writers and he delivered that inspirational speech that the nation needed to hear. Unfortunately what they heard was that only some select few would survive the asteroid strike in deep caves. But President Beck was honest and forthright about his religious faith in a televised address. That is a plus in my book and something most politicians won’t do in real life.

Number Four

Julia Louis Dreyfus' character Selina Meyer (Veep) is best known for being the almost-president. But she was president briefly on the show, so she gets good consideration here.

Number Three

Harrison Ford is definitely one of the choices. As ridiculous as he is showing President James Marshall fending terrorists off of Air Force One, it’s not as ridiculous as President Camacho in Idiocracy--who is not under consideration, because I haven’t seen that movie and I think that the 2016 election proved that truth can be stranger than fiction.

Number Two 

It might surprise you that I didn't pick Bill Pullman's Independence Day president Thomas Whitmore as the greatest fictional American president. "President Whitmore" may certainly be the greatest presidential orator in any American movie not about Lincoln, however. Whitmore's inspired speech gave courage to the world, enabling everyone to fight against alien invasion. Then he participated in the jet fighter attack against the alien ship. And, finally he convinced a drunk and down-on-his luck Randy Quaid to sacrifice himself for the good of all mankind. That's a presidential trifecta!

Number One

My favorite fictional president is Kevin Kline's Dave Kovic in the movie Dave. Sure, he is technically just a presidential impersonator who is asked to fill in for a comatose President Bill Mitchell (also portrayed by Kline). But Dave has a good, well-meaning heart and after he gets over his misgivings (and starts falling for Sigourney Weaver as a confused and sad First Lady, President Dave is every bit as inspirational as President Bartlett in the NBC show the West Wing. (And since I don't like most of Aaron Sorkin and just want to be contrary and reject Barlett's praise, I go the other way.) Love live President Dave! And long live Dave Kovic who wriggles out of multiple counts of fraud and (probably?) treason to eventually convince the acting Vice President to champion a needed jobs program. Then Dave decides to run for local office--which is how we should all commit to as citizens of this fine country.

So--that's it for this week. Stop watching football and go take a walk.

And, please . . . remember this. It doesn't matter if your starting defense decides to kneel during the national anthem. It was never about the flag anyway.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Football Counter-Programming 2018: Pre-game


As I begin a new season of trying to distract you from the hegemonic influence of college football social media, I must at least begin by addressing the Buckeye-shaped elephant (Crimson Tide?) in the room . . . the culpability of Urban Meyer, head coach of THE Ohio State University's college football team.

1. I am NOT surprised by the choice that tOSU made in retaining Meyer. tOSU's football team is the most visible public face of the University, it generates a ton of revenue, and Meyer is the most highly-paid member of that organization. When faced with giving all of that up . . . the school found itself unable to turn away.

2. The university's decision to suspend (without pay) Meyer and the AD for only the first three games of the season is a token punishment that needs no further comment from me.

But if I had to add any further comment, that would only be . . . disgraceful.

3. I have no other specific notes to make about this.

There are people who earn their living thinking about Urban Meyer, tOSU, the state of college football, the outsized influence of college football in American society, toxic masculinity, the NCAA, and whatever else you want to pin to this headline. I am none of those people. A quick trip to your favorite search bar will yield a bevy of other opinions on this topic.

4. In honor of this counter-programming season-long (?) topic of distraction, I am considering illustrating each week of the FC-P with an OSU-related visual. Do you have an opinion on that? (Or would you rather I just reuse some variation on Sad Pizza memes for thirteen weeks?)

Monday, August 13, 2018

Happy WWYG-versary

Yesterday marked the fourteen year that I have managed to keep this blog live on the Internet without giving up completely and deleting the entire affair.

It's a meaningless date, but I still find a bit of happiness whenever I reach this point. And every year I hope that I can find some use for it . . . or at the very least find a reason to write on it more regularly.

For instance . . . Sarah and Grace just starting watching LOST episodes again. Which motivated me to go back through my existing LOST Rewatch posts from the past and edit them and clean up obvious typos and replace broken images.

[See the link at the top of the page if you are interested.]

Maybe, maybe, maybe I'll squeeze a bit of time now and then to add a new post and AT LEAST finish season 2?

Friday, August 10, 2018

How can you defend Dolores Umbridge?

This morning I was scrolling through my YouTube subscriptions and ran across this recent upload from the wonderful podcast Harry Potter and the Sacred Text.

I watched it and immediately began to struggle with how to accept the point of view that is being suggested in the video. I have always thought that Dolores Umbridge is one of the worst villains in the HP universe and I do think that it is rather unambiguous. She is shown to be racist, extremely narrow-minded, trending toward fascistic, unafraid to physically harm children, blind to evidence and reason, etc.

So . . . how can you attempt to make her a sympathetic character? (I feel similarly about Severus Snape, by the way--but that is another post.)


So, Umbridge a character worthy of sympathy? That is hard. But as a Christian, I must remember that Umbridge represents a person--full stop. And I should NOT write her off as entirely irredeemable and lacking worth.

I need to struggle to understand why she acts as she does and what are her reasons for these actions. Only THEN can I hope to approach her character and what she represents with understanding. Then I can begin to refute the way that she thinks.


Umbridge is a fictional character. But she represents so many people in the world around me. (And it is how others may choose to view me, as well.) That is obviously WHY this video was made in this way. When I am faced with entrenched and opposed views on the Internet, in my office, in my neighborhood, in any place. I need to remember this video and pause. I need to ask the question why and then formulate a way forward from there.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Party Month 2018--Closing it out

Here we are deep into August and I still haven't closed out Party Month with my traditional review of the end event--Sarah's birthday.

And this one was a milestone: her eighteenth, her achievement of majority in between high school graduation and college departure, etc. She is an adult and she is getting ready to embark on her own journey into her own life: beginning to fully take the reigns of that life and make it entirely her own. (I say all this with the hope and the perspective that she won't still need our aid, our advice, and our presence in the future--especially in these new college years.) But . . . there are new things a-comin'.

Her party? A low-key affair: per her request. A family dinner out, some elaborate dessert, some presents. The traditional Happy Birthday banner hung in her honor by the breakfast table.

She did have separate fun out with her friends. But the days of scavenger hunts, big decorations, and sugary cakes are no more.

And that's a notable point to make and something that I realize more forcefully as I type these words. Because this WWYG?! blog really began with Sarah and with Grace. It started in part as a way to chronicle my own experience as a parent and to capture the events of my children as they grew, away from the rest of my family. Forcing me to try and convey something of my own new life across a distance that I had not imagined when I was younger and thinking into my own unknown future.

Sure . . . WWYG?! is about a lot more than my kids. But family has always been the biggest category encompassing the most of the blog posts I've written over the years. (No matter how many times I might have gone on and on about LOST back in the older days when I posted multiple times a week.)


I won't stop posting, of course. I've got two more kids to get into adulthood and then many more exciting things to report about their achievements for years to come. (And maybe I'll do something in my own life worth remembering as well.)

Until those events happen . . . Happy Eighteen birthday Sarah! Congratulations on all that you have accomplished and all that you are.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Party Month 2018--Extended (& Compressed) Edition

Question 1--Why is it extended?

Well--normally Party Month begins in late June with Grace's birthday (6/26) and then rolls forward until the end of Sarah's birthday (7/22), with stops to celebrate Lynda's birthday (7/1) and our anniversary (7/8).

But this year, we HAVE to consider Sarah's HS graduation with began on May 26.

You could certainly argue that--with that logic--I need to pluralize the name of this event and also why not throw in Mothers Day and Fathers Day?

To answer the second argument first: precedent matters . . . and I've never done so before. And it's my blog. So, I get to set the rules and bend them in whatever shape I want. And to answer the first argument, a high school graduation comes but once in a person's life (hopefully). So, I think it deserves to be remembered and highlighted.

Question 2--Okay. Then why is it also compressed?

That should be obvious to any long-time readers of WWYG?! It's because I am halfway through our annual Party Month period and have not yet posted anything about Party Month. For that, I apologize to Sarah for not quickly blogging about her important educational transition. And I also apologize to Grace for only now mentioning her aging to her fifteenth year, or for publically celebrating Lynda's new birthday observation.

To rectify those problems I'm going to post together about most of these in this update.

Event 1: Sarah's graduation (May 26)
We spruced up the house a bit prior to this weekend in May, especially in the yard. And we got to welcome some visiting family that doesn't often get to visit in Ohio. So, it was a fun experience for us and certainly a first in our family--our first high school graduate.

Sarah didn't want a big party with her friends but opted to hang out with our family as we had a cookout with lots of good food. Even though it rained while I was finishing up the grilling, we passed the food and the vegetable kabobs through the breakfast nook window while my brother Mike kept me dry with a patio umbrella. All in all, everything was successful--especially Sarah's walk across the big stage. And the ceremony itself took about two hours AND it was indoors--which was nice because it was pretty hot in late May this year.

Of course, we are so proud of Sarah's hard work in school all of these years--especially these last two years of high school. We are very excited for her upcoming enrollment in the Columbus College of Art and Design, which is only just downtown and twenty minutes away. She'll be living on campus and getting a taste of some independent living. I can't want for her to come home during the Fall semester so I can see her first tattoo. (Joking?)

Back when she was three? Two?

Event 2: Grace's fifteenth birthday (June 26)

As usual, Grace handled the party planning and all of the food prep herself. She knows what she wants and she's going to make it so. Good food, and a fun time to watch Grace hang out with so many of her theatre friends.

I mostly stayed out of the way, discretely out of earshot, and making sure that everyone had what they needed. I started a fire in the firepit and did my best to keep it burning throughout the evening and into the dark--just in case Grace and her friends decided to hang out and make smores or something. Mostly they just sat around on the patio and had fun talking and laughing.

Sarah helped out a lot by keeping an eye on Hannah through many parts of the event so that Grace wasn't worried about Hannah. But even so, I think Hannah did a good job of interacting some and not being a problem (at least in Grace's estimation).

Event 3: Lynda's birthday (July 1)
This event got obscured a bit because of a variety of factors (and--at least to a degree--with Lynda's permission). First, Grace and I were out of town that weekend on a church Youth Group mission trip. And second, Lynda's mom moved into her new apartment in Ohio that same weekend. So, it was a busy time, to say the least, and not all of us were there to help spread the workload.

Lynda took it all in stride and was very happy to see her Mom move into the Westerville area so that we can all be closer together now. Grace and I did get her a cupcake when we got back into town, thought--and Sarah and Nana bought her a birthday cake as well that we all got to enjoy.

Valdosta, Georgia--1995

Event 4: Our 23rd Wedding Anniversary (July 8)
I'm so happy to celebrate another year of happy marriage with Lynda. She's such a great person, a wonderful friend, and devoted mom. She works so hard for herself, for her community, for us. It's great to share a life with someone who you are proud of, who makes me happy and gives me reasons to make her happy.

The last year has been undeniably tough for her. But her strength and faith are always evident. And now we go forward with new experiences still ahead. I can't ask for a better partner and friend and I should write about that in public every day.

Here's hoping that I can FINALLY make good on my promise long ago and get that anniversary trip to Hawaii ready to launch in the next two years!

. . . Anyway--that is a catch up on what we've been doing for Party Month so FAR! Sarah's eighteenth birthday is still to come, so I hope to have a bit more to update before this month is done.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

All your #HatofSummer information in one place

Because I like to make things more complicated than they ought to be, I've made you go to three separate places to fully participate in this year's #SummerHat2018 contest.

And so, I can do nothing but apologize and try to make it right.

So, I'm going to try and make it a bit easier for you in this way.

If you want to rewatch my #SummerHat intro teaser, it's right below. Enjoy #HatofSummer's from past seasons!

And then, from there, you can watch the various choices for this year's #SummerHat2018 choices:

And once you've done all of that, please use the form below to officially cast your vote to determine my 2018 Hat of Summer. When Memorial Day weekend is over, I will announce the winner. And whichever hat wins, that will be the only hat that I wear all summer long.

You can vote as many times as you want and for any many hats as you like. Please tell your friends and encourage everyone to get involved!

Monday, March 05, 2018

Explaining the Academy Awards Voting . . . Process

Were you upset by last night's The Shape of Water win over the likes of LadyBird or Get Out?

We'll I'm sure a bit of internet surfing will reveal that you are not alone in that. (And, for the record, I am with you.)

But . . . do you know WHY it happened? As I only recently learned, I think it has a lot to do with the system of Preferential Balloting that places emphasis on a move that garners lots of support across the whole industry--because the movie industry insiders support films that are the most "movie-like movies". (And that is why . . . side note . . . the 2017 win of Moonlight over La La Land was--despite the dramatic televised mistake--so unexpected. Because no other movie in 2017 was more "a celebration of the movieness of movies" that La La Land.)

ANDBUTSO . . . what is Preferential Balloting?

I've placed a video above that helps outline the mechanics of the system. This was especially important to understand in terms of the expanded number of possible Best Picture nominees when that video was first created.

Unfortunately, I don't the video itself is terribly clear. So, I'm putting another one below here. Unfortunately, most of this second video is focused on the earlier nomination process. But the way that Best Picture is sorted out comes at the end.

Viewed together, I think you can understand how a movie about Fish Sex won.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Recognizing American Greatness . . . Again


One of the random fun bits of my job as a textbook writer is when I can do a bit of research and find something interesting. It's rare that I have enough time to really stop and read . . . but I had a bit of time recently while doing some supporting research for a task and I found these two inspiring government documents.

First, a House Judiciary Committee report that began the often failed efforts to pass an Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution. This particular committee action seemed (at first) the same as many other ERA attempts in the decades between 1923 and 1970. But this move resulted (eventually) in the first actual Floor vote on the notion of constitutional equal rights.

What I found so interesting about this simple bit of legislative procedure--after all, the basis of this document was simply to add two simple amendments to the committee's proposed wording--was the lengthy Report that accompanied the legal wording. It gave a historical overview of the existence of inequality in our legal system which began thusly:

“In recommending the proposed amendment to the Constitution, your Committee recognizes that our legal system currently contains the vestiges of a variety of ancient common law principles which discriminate unfairly against women. Some of these discriminatory principles are based on the old common law doctrine of ‘coverture’ which treated the husband and wife as a single legal entity, but which regarded the husband alone as ‘the one.’ Other discriminatory principles still discernible in our legal system are based on an invidious and outmoded double-standard which affords men a greater freedom than women to depart from conventional moral standards. Still other forms of discriminatory laws have their origins in obsolete and often irrational notions of chivalry which in a modern context regard women in a patronizing or condescending light. . . . [These discriminations] are in many cases without rational justification and are no longer relevant to our modern democratic institutions. Their persistence even in vestigial form creates disharmony between the sexes. Therefore, we strongly recommend that all irrational discrimination on the basis of sex be eliminated.”

If you are so inspired, you could read the whole item here.

Following that, I began research on some other (related) topic and found this speech given by President Obama in 2012 when he awarded Presidental Medals of Freedom to such American citizens as Madeleine Albright, Dolores Huerta, Bob Dylan, John Glenn, and Juliette Gordon Low, and John Paul Stevens.

It was so nice to read an eloquent speech given thoughtfully from the White House, highlighting such a variety of people who have truly Made America Great in their own personal ways. One excerpt from that speech is:

". . . [W]hen Cesar Chavez sat Dolores Huerta down at his kitchen table and told her they should start a union, she thought he was joking.  She was a single mother of seven children, so she obviously didn’t have a lot of free time.  But Dolores had been an elementary school teacher and remembered seeing children come to school hungry and without shoes.  So in the end, she agreed -- and workers everywhere are glad that she did.  Without any negotiating experience, Dolores helped lead a worldwide grape boycott that forced growers to agree to some of the country’s first farm worker contracts.  And ever since, she has fought to give more people a seat at the table.  'Don’t wait to be invited,' she says, 'Step in there.'"

Please do me a favor and read the whole speech. It is so inspiring.