Friday, November 15, 2019

Football Counter-Programming 2019: Week 13


Did you miss me last week? (I hope at least someone noticed that I didn't post.) Maybe you felt a bit guilty as you watched college foootball, but you didn't quite know why?

Well, I hope to make up for it with a rollercoaster of a story about my . . . hometown . . . the great city of Tifton, Georgia.

It all centers around the story of the Town Terrace Motel--which I have written about in my digital sphere before. It has its own dramatic history long before I crossed paths with it. But the amount of news surrounding this mid-century hotel has really rocketed up in the month of November.

First--my brief connection. Lynda and I got married in 1995 and I had about six weeks between returning from our honeymoon and starting a new year of grad school at Georgia Southern University. So, Lynda and I had a brief residence at the Town Terrace before we packed up again and went back to Statesboro. I wrote about it on WWYG?! back in January 2009 and provided some additional photo information on Why Won't You Photo?! as well.

But recently, the Town Terrace has been in the news a LOT! I first heard about it via this post from a Tifton-based newsletter that I subscribe to. It seems that a Hollywood movie may be filmed in the Tifton area and they were scouting the Town Terrace for some location shooting. I thought that was cool and I thought that would be the end of it. But no.



I felt sad, because not only do I have a direct connection with the Terrace (and I hate the use of the nickname "Pink Motel"), but I've done my own modest historical research on these types of mid-century road accommodations and I didn't want to see a bit of it disappear. Still . . . if the location was in disrepair and in need of extensive renovation then maybe it was inappropriate to hold onto a husk of history for no real reason--especially if there wasn't a strong local desire to keep it up.

Over the next few days, some of my hometown Facebook friends began lamenting the news.  And it sort of felt "too little/too late".

And THEN . . . two Grapevine issues later I see THIS.


So now I really don't know what to think. (Honestly, my initial gut reaction was that someone set the fire on purpose to prevent the site from being completely demolished and slow down the building of the new townhomes . . . though that makes absolutely NO logical sense whatsoever.) But the twists and turns were getting really dramatic. What would happen to the movie shoot plans? 

But as of earlier this week, the news (maybe?) is good (possibly?). Because the Tuesday, November 12 issue of the Tifton Grapevine looked like this!


So . . . what is next? I have no idea. I don't know if saved is the correct adjective for what has happened right now. It is not slated for demolition at this time. It has one unit damaged by fire. It is still on the docket for December film shooting. But beyond that? No one knows. If it is going to remain a function place that retains its historic charm and serves the community, a lot of investment and repair needs to be completed. Otherwise, someone new is going to step in and tear it all down for a more modern money plan. 

I hope something good comes out of all of this attention. And if it does get torn down, I hope at the very least that the sign is saved.

And that is it for me this week. I hope you enjoyed this slice of true-life. And I hope you clicked on all of the links. But if you didn't, just remember. These past few days in the history of Tifton's Town Terrace are even more remarkable than whatever happened last week in that LSU-Alabama game.

Find something else to do besides watching college football!

Friday, November 01, 2019

Football Counter-Programming 2019: Week 11


Are you ready for some more Star Wars-related Football Counter-Programming?!?

I'm coming back around to this idea again, my friends. Because what else--other than football--commands a larger part of the well-off brain than discussing pop culture--and most especially Star Wars pop culture? Ever since 1976, we've been talking Star Wars, reimagining Star Wars, copying Star Wars, trying to recreate Star Wars, prequalizing Star Wars, animating Star Wars, disliking Star Wars, debating Star Wars, resurrecting Star Wars, loving Star Wars, and anticipating Star Wars.

And between now and the theater debut of the eleventh new Star Wars feature film, we'll once again be doing each and every one of those things once more--possibly several of them per day.

So, what better way for me to distract you from watching football on a weekend and then rushing to social media to talk about that football than to get your neurons firing in a totally different part of your grey matter on a very different subject?

So, unlearn what you have learned about football and come debate me on my ranking of the worst to best Star Wars movies!

Category 5: Smells Like a Tuskin Raider Died in This Trash Compactor


Are you at all surprised that we begin at the bottom by starting at the beginning? It's (of course) one of the prequels.

#11. Star Wars Ep. II: Attack of the Clones
Hold me as tightly as you want while we gaze at the lakes of Naboo, but there is no way you can tell me that this movie doesn't deserve to be at the bottom of this list. Whether its Anakin and Padme's love story or the hatred levels of sand . . . there is little here to recommend. (Unless you like the video game scene where C3P0 gets mechanically abused on the droid assembly line.)


#10. Star Wars Ep. I: The Phantom Menace
The things that kept this one from tieing for last place are mostly the scenes with Darth Maul being a Sith badass. His level of mysterious cool overcame Jake Lloyd's YIPPEE! or the fact that Natalie Portman was supposed to credibly feel the stirrings of love enough to slightly hit upon a nine-year-old. Plus the fact that there is just enough of a bone-deep love of Star Wars in me to allow the pent up excitement of the franchises return when that first crawl hit the screen in 1998 to overcome its many, many shortcomings.



Category 4: As Bad as a Dying Tauntaun

#9. Star Wars Ep. VI: Return of the Jedi
You might be upset with this one. It is one of the original trilogy and many would expect that it might rise further up my list--especially since I haven't even listed all three of the prequel movies in this list yet. But still . . . Return was always the weakest of the originals. And it DOES contain the original sin of Ewoks. I wring my hands a bit here and do not display near the amount of turmoil that Luke does in the many Emperor throne room scenes. But I'm going to be bold and stick to my blasters with this choice.


#8. Star Wars Ep. III: Revenge of the Sith
Seriously. I'm putting this one here. And it's because that fight scene at the end of the movie is just so anticipatory. It might be diminished a bit by what comes after--Padme just giving up and dying for some reason? and the Nooooooo Frankenstein moment at Darth's awakening. But that crumbling slide of Anakin fully into darkness and the lightsaber duel between him and Obi-Wan on Mustafar was just enough to bump it up a bit for me. Even in the dark disappointments of the prequel movies I always wanted to know a bit more about Anakin's embrace of the Dark Side. Though the acting on screen was lots of scowling and angry eyes under overlarge hoods . . . I still had been wanting to know. I'd been wanting to know ever since Darth outstretched his hand to a wounded Luke in the underbelly of Bespin Cloud City. How had it all gone wrong? Was I asking about Vader or am I asking about the Prequels?




Category 3: Unfairly Maligned--Kinda like the Gunguns Maybe?

7. Solo: A Star Wars Story
You might say "I've got a bad feeling about this." Or you might have heard others say that about this movie. But it was not as bad as you think. I'll admit that I've only seen it once--making it easily my least seen Star Wars movie on this list. But I found nothing objectionable about it. It was acted well--far more so than Hayden Christiansen or Jake Lloyd . . . or even many scenes presented by the very good Natalie Portman. I liked the story. I liked learning more about young Han. And getting Donald Glover as young Lando was more than we deserved. It might end up being a test case for most of the upcoming offerings on the streaming Disney+ network. But I'll happily put it middle of the pack and let you call me an easy touch and a grade inflator.




Category 2: Okay. I've Got a Bad Feeling About This


6. Star Wars Ep. IV: A New Hope
Here in Category 2 is where I'm really gonna start stepping on some fanboys toes and where I'm wading into the Internet Trolls mind space. Let's begin here by downgrading the originator of the whole franchise. I will always be a Star Wars stan (as you can see). But the movies ranked above A New Hope so greatly improved upon the original that I had to push it down, don't you see? It suffered because of its time. Its visuals--though groundbreaking for 1976--cannot compete with the spectacle of today. And we've just become better at telling Star Wars stories. Do you expect that the Epic of Gilgamesh must always be ranked number one in all story criticism?


5. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
This movie is simply great. It's just so good. It accomplished what the prequels meant to do, and for an added degree of difficulty, it did so after the prequels failed at it so spectacularly. Daisy Ridley and the character of Rey ably picked up the burden (and the lightsaber) left by Mark Hamill's Luke Skywalker. And the creative minds of Lucasfilm and Disney showed that they could be true to their Star Wars roots--and know the future--by creating the delightful presence of BB-8. It was a rollicking good time, exactly as the fun parts of Empire. And it just felt like Star Wars. (Sure, it suffers . . . slightly in my mind but more so in others estimation . . . from feeling TOO MUCH like Star Wars. But when it came out, I unreservedly loved it and haven't lost that excited feeling in subsequent rewatches.


4. Rogue One

The only questionable thing about this movie is the few instances of CGI de-aging on General Tarkin and Princess Leia. (Honestly, I'm only bothered by the waxy looking Leia in the final scene of the movie. I didn't even register the technique with Tarkin when I first watched the movie, and I actually thought to myself with surprise how little the actor had aged in my entire lifetime. So . . . maybe that admission alone disqualifies me from ever having a public thought about movies ever again. But still I persist.)
In short, Rogue One is bad ass. And the last thirty minutes are as good a movie as anyone could hope. The taking down of the Scarif shield and the tension that mounts as Leia's cruiser escapes with the plans while Vader decimates everyone in the airlock hallway is incredible. It completely connects to and justifies the cold opening scene of A New Hope in every possible way.


Category 1: You Must Unlearn What You Have Learned

3. Star Wars Ep. V: The Empire Strikes Back
Maybe no one will hate me more than they will hate me for this. Unquestionably, throughout my lifetime--that is the lifetime of the Star Wars franchise, I might add--this has been the gold standard movie. I love it. Every character is great. Luke looks wonderful. Leia is strong and sexy. Han wears every outfit like it was precisely made for him. Hell, they even made you believe in a gnomish Muppet as a critically pivotal character.
And did I forget to say that it provided the most dramatic plot twist of any movie in the last 40 years? All of that--plus the sublimity of the visuals and score of the chase through the asteroid field.
I must be crazy for doing this.



2. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
So many people got all butt hurt about this movie and I just don't understand it. It continued the deepening of Rey's story. It gave us more sympathy for Kylo Ren and then allowed him to yank that sympathy away. And it gave us a correct and honest ending to Luke Skywalker's conflicted life, giving him the space he deserved to call out the real failing of the Jedi Order. It allowed Leia to fully and completely stand on her own as a leader, a rebel, an inspiration.
It was also an incredible visual feast--from the red sands of Crait, to the duel in Snoke's throne room, to the solemnity of the Holdo Maneuver. I LOVED IT!



1. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
I haven't seen it. And neither have you. So you have no right to criticize my anticipation of greatness. If it is bad, I'll say so--especially if they make the wrong choice and make Rey a part of the Skywalker ancestry and not the unknown nobody that she ought to be.
But, other than that, I really look forward to this being a great movie.

 

So--just remember. The kids playing out there on your alma mater's football team grew up in the Star Wars era. Heck, for all I know, they may think Count Dooku is the best villain in the entire saga. So try to forgive them when they fail to stop that 4th and 2 play in the final minutes of the Fourth Quarter.

Until next week!

[NOTE:  I briefly struggled with which of the three main Rise of Skywalker trailers to insert here. I really like the emotional and historical tone of the second one (minus the misleading visual that comes at the end) while also being awed by the visual spectacle of the first one. Which of the three would YOU have wanted me to prioritize?]

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Football Counter-Programming 2019: Week 10



This season's Football Counter-Programming is almost up. Let's get right into it.

The industrial world is a world of convenience and specialization. But the mechanical and technical nature of the world that we live in creates a world of repetition.



In this repetitive world, how do we hold onto our motivations? How do we find that spark of inspiration to keep us doing our best every time? Is it rational to take every day and do it to the very best of your capabilities each and every time? Or should we shephard our resources--physical and mental--for when it really counts? (And--can we reliably accomplish this? And, without artificial and outside rules . . . when will we know when it really counts?) Unless you are being judged for something on an agreed-upon time schedule, you won't know when you need to do your best. So you must always be on guard as if someone is watching. 

But that can be exhausting. And so you have to find your internal motivation. Either become motivated to yourself or find outsiders or team-mates or job colleagues who can provide you with the motivation to live up to expectations.

Still . . . I know we can't always be perfect in all that we do all the time. We fall short. We make mistakes. And when we do, we can learn how to learn from those shortcomings and make adjustments and try to do better then next time. And I guess that is the most important lesson--for myself, for my children. We can't be perfect and no amount of wishing will make it so. We live in a world of shortcomings. But we cannot give up our pursuit for betterment with each performance--even though we know that sometimes we do poorly. Sometimes those mistakes are obvious to everyone. And sometimes they are known only to ourselves. The journey is valuable, even if there are peaks and valleys along the way.

(All of this made more impactful sense in my head when I thought about it. Predictably, it seems less useful now that I've put it down on the screen. It is less eloquent and more bone-crushingly obvious. But I'm keeping it here as a reminder to me and a way to process things from this week.)

So . . . stay the course. Keep trying. And remember . . . your alma mater's starting left guard has good weeks and bad weeks as well. He's just a kid still and maybe he didn't have enough breakfast this morning. Give him a break, just this once. Football doesn't matter any more than anything else.

Until next week.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Football Counter-Programming 2019: Week 9


I really don't have tons of time today. So this one is going to be very short.

Please don't watch televised football today, okay?

But if that isn't enough, then please read this for a few minutes and go do something else--as long as it isn't football.

[Click here to read.]

Remember . . . your alma mater will play again next weekend. And I'll still be trying to convince you not to watch.

The Star Wars Watch Order Free-for-all



It all started when I was trying to figure out the best way to give my kids the optimal Star Wars viewing experience.

I favored a JJ Abrams-influenced flashback method. [Click the link to read my explanation.]

But then I had to start figuring out how to accommodate the new back-end Ray/Kilo Ren trilogy. And while I was at it, I needed to work in how to best harness the emotional wallop of Rogue One. So, I came up with this alternative suggestion. (Or really, I just described the problem and left the question unanswered.) [Click that link to read that post.]

But NOW . . . it's become increasingly impossible to figure out how to do this. As IP is driven by the demands of streaming services, the regulated lock-step march of storytelling that has ruled the mechanisms of sequel making of the past forty years is breaking down. I haven't seen Star Wars Ep. IX: The Rise of Skywalker (naturally), but I am at least confident that it will fall at the end of my watch list. Chronologically is a pretty safe bet here.

Beyond that? Dunno. . .

We've also got to account for Solo: A Star Wars Story. And within a few weeks, we will also need to account for the Disney + streaming series The Mandalorian.

And I've completely decided not to incorporate the animated television series Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars: Rebels, or Star Wars: Resistance. (I haven't watched the third animated series yet . . . if I ever will.)



So, where you put Solo is up to you. In a chronological sense, it definitely goes prior to Ep. IV a New Hope and Rogue One--I think? But I don't favor straight chronology in my preferred watch order anyway . . . so I don't have to really worry that much about whether it runs somewhere within the chronology of Eps. I-III. (And I'm sure that it does, just based on a rough understanding of aging and character back-story. But I don't want to get into a Wikipedia rabbit hole right now.) And the larger point about Solo: A Star Wars Story is that it is pretty inessential in the grander scheme of the Star Wars emotional arc. I happened to enjoy the movie a lot, but it is more of an aperitif within the Lucas-verse rather than a critical beat in the story. So . . . watch it when you want? Use it as a palette cleanser after Attack of the Clones, to scrub the desert sand that Anakin hates so much out of your brain? Watch it somewhere halfway through Empire Strikes Back to give more depth to Han's growing feelings toward Leia? Or maybe interrupt Chewie's grief over the loss of Han to go back to where their relationship began? I don't have a great idea for you.

As for The Mandalorian? I don't have any clue at all or even where to begin. Because I haven't seen it. And so I don't know where it fits in the timeline. And I don't know who the characters are. And I don't know anything. Is it about Boba Fett? Is it about his great-grandchildren? Is it about the first settler of Mandalor? Is it actually about Greedo?

So I guess TBD on that one.

But I would really like some crowdsourcing help with this. Please reply in comments who YOU prefer to watch the Star Wars movies. Do you have a preferred order? Have you never thought about this before? Now that I've brought it up, what are your thoughts on the issue?


Saturday, October 12, 2019

Football Counter-Programming 2019: Bye Week 8


(I'm tired after a long night of Harry Potter Christianity and overseeing a Youth Group lock-in. So I'm employing the bye week and taking a week off. May your alma mater do something this week.)

Saturday, October 05, 2019

Football Counter-Programming 2019: Week 7



Welcome back to another installation of 2019 Football Counter-Programming. Each week I try to distract you from college football with my own little digital oasis of something else. And this week I'm doing things a bit differently.

FIRST--I want you to close your computer, drive over the Westerville North High School after lunch today and pay a small admissions fee to come watch the Westerville Invitational marching band competition. Because what better way to distract yourself from college football than sitting in a football stadium and NOT watching football? Watch marching bands instead. Marching bands have existed to distract you from football for over a century!

There are almost 15 bands in all shapes and sizes coming to Westerville today to perform, get scores and ratings, and just enjoy themselves. I promise you that you can't find a better way to send your beautiful afternoon and evening than doing this. And all proceeds are evenly split between the Westerville South and Westerville North marching programs.

Now--on to other things.

Because I'm going to be busy all day with the competition, I don't have tons of time to come up with and write a suitably distracting post--in the off chance that a.) you aren't coming to the Westerville Invitational or b.) you are simply living too far away to come to the Westerville Invitational.

So, I've dug up something that I wrote many years ago when Sarah's artistic talent was first being celebrated. It goes way back into my digital archives and many years back in time. But do please click to enjoy!

https://wwyphoto.blogspot.com/2009/04/art-at-state-capitol.html

(And remember. No one on the football field knows more about hashmarks than the band members.)

Until next week!

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Football Counter-Programming 2019: Week 6



Welcome back everyone to another post in this year's Football Counter-Programming effort.

Last week, I sat down to write and I was 100 percent convinced that I would have no idea what to write and then stuff just starting coming out and I decided to go ahead with it and call it a thing. But this week, I really am sitting down to write and nothing is coming to mind.

You see--and I do this sometimes because of reasons--I often try to pre-plan and pre-write these posts before Saturday morning. Especially when times like this weekend arise: where I am busy all of Friday night helping out Grace's marching band at an away football game performance and then immediately helping out again on Saturday with a marching band competition. When I'm working all week, I just don't often have the mental energy to sit down and start coming up with some hare-brained idea for an FC-P before Saturday morning rolls around. And so, I always have the "bye week" looming in my mind . . . wondering which is the best week to pull the trigger on that and just back out for a week.

I sat down last week, determined not to use the bye week. I was just going to sketch out something short and try to call it intentionally vague. But then I quickly wrote some mental dialogue that I liked more than expected and felt that it was good enough.

What constitutes good enough anyway?

I'd love to know what the public reaction to these posts are. I don't expect much feedback, sure. But I wish I could crawl inside your heads and track what is good and what is bad when you read these things. And isn't that the dilemma of all writers? (And, sorry if I am casually throwing myself into that category that I definitely didn't earn.) Since I left school and quit getting grades on essays and reports--INTERRPUTED BY DAUGHTER TO GO TAKE AN AFTERNOON WALK--


. . .  Sorry.

Um, well. As I was saying. When I left school and quit getting grades on essays and reports, I lost the direct feedback from readers to gauge how I was doing with my writing. Not that these writing assignments were creative in nature--or at least not directly. I guess all decent writing should involve creativity, a clever turn of phrase where appropriate, clear thinking and useful ideas.

Not that my blogging really reflects that.

But ANYWAY--I do welcome responses: both good and bad. Truly. Without that I'm just tossing junk into the social media void and confirming in myself that no one at all wants or cares that I keep pounding these things out week after week and year beyond year. It's not like I'm truly changing your mind about college football. It's only an excuse to write something and maybe, maybe, maybe stumble into something good every once in a great while.

Maybe I'll shift to rapid-fire poetry.

If there is one thing I'm sure is a good idea is quickly sketched poetic ideas with very little time for reflection or honing.

Well--I guess that feels like the end of this drafting session. How many football plays happened in the second quarter while you were skimming this? Or did you save it for a commercial break? However you chose to consume it, I thank you for sharing some time with me.

And remember, once more. For all YOU know, the third-string defensive end of your famous alma mater just might love performing slam poetry in the too-old restaurant that some of the professors (you know which ones) still dream about hanging out in when they were younger and trying for tenure. Football players are (certainly) large. And they are allowed to also contain multitudes.

See you next weekend?

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Football Counter-Programming 2019: Week 5



Good day everyone. Welcome once again to another (if tragically brief and entirely unprepared) installment of Football Counter-Programming.

To recap for all of the new people that are undoubtedly surging to this post after the several weeks of triumphant posts so far . . . every week during the college football season I sit down and try to think up ways to divert your attention from the mindless cultural practice that is Saturday college football.

Now, I can't come to your house and offer to play Jenga with you.

And I don't have enough money to buy everyone a ticket to Brad Pitt's new spaceman movie Ad Astra.

But what I can do is use my considerable powers of imagination and writing skill to persuade you with my words. I can spin a tale so beguiling that you find yourself shifting your eyeballs from whatever meaningless 2nd down and 8 to go scenario that your alma mater finds itself facing against Directional Tech (who happens to be winless in the conference and is no real threat to your playoff chances anyway).

Instead you are falling under my spell of story and song.

You find yourself reading through this post and then being so excited by what you've experienced that you click backward through Why Won't You Grow?! and you read the previous month of Football Counter-Programming for 2019.

And it is all so delightful that you decide to go ahead and forgo the plans you had made to grab a quick Saturday lunch at the neighborhood sandwich shop--you know that place that has the delicious garlicky spread?. You figured that you could swing by there during the halftime break--They never show the marching bands anyway--You'd pop in real quick and grab a sandwich and maybe a beer.

 . . . Unless you want to drive back home to eat it, in which case maybe you'll cool it on the beer and see if there are any extras in the basement refrigerator. But you'll definitely be able to drive there, get your sandwich and maybe a drink, then get back home before the start of the third quarter. 

(But you really wish that this local sandwich shop that you love so much took call-in orders because then you could put in your order as you were pulling out of the driveway on your hand-free cell phone -in-car-hook-up and by the time you got there it would be freshly made and ready to go. Ain't technology cool? What a world we live in?! But also . . . speaking of technology . . . maybe this sandwich place is on DoorDash? or Uber Eats? or one of those food delivery things that your kids use?

Is that likely though? I mean, this is not a franchise shop. That is partly what makes their sandwiches so good anyway. Fresh ingredients. They know the locals. They have proven over the last five years that they can make it work in the difficult restaurant business. Not that you know what running a restaurant is like. But your sister-in-law did it. And your best friends cousin also runs a small business dry cleaners, and she is always saying how hard it is to make these types of things work. Not that you have any analogous work experience of your own with regard to that. Even since you were a high-schooler you've somehow always worked for some component of a corporate-type business. Funny huh? Maybe that is why America seems so distant and less personable than everyone on TV swears it used to be--not that you really believe that was ever true anyway.

Andbutso . . . sandwiches! Stay focused or you are going to miss that halftime window!)

So, yeah I guess I can afford to take that time and call in a sandwich--and NOT use that expensive food delivery nonsense--and I'll go and pick it up and be back by the third quarter. And then maybe--well this game isn't very interesting anyway.

Maybe I'll knock off the stupid football watching and keep reading these interesting blog posts. This dummy has been writing them for . . . [clicks around] . . . over FIVE YEARS?! 

Wow. There's gotta be something interesting in at least one of these, right? I'll just search through the archives over there and read some more and that'll probably be more interesting than watching Directional Tech punt another five times.

***

So, well, maybe that wasn't so short after all.

I hope you enjoyed that bit of unconscious stuff and were similarly inspired to look around and avoid some football. Trust me when I tell you that Directional Tech's head coach STILL makes more money than you do--and he can't even find a reliable left tackle.

See you next week with whatever I think of then.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Football Counter-Programming 2019: Week 4


Welcome back my friends to another week of Football Counter-Programming. It's that time of year where I take to the blog-o-sphere to combat the power of college athletics--specifically football. I want to give you a small island of difference in the Saturday stream of football-related posts on Facebook and Twitter. I want you to see my tiny line in the digital sand and stop for a moment, rest your eyes, turn ON your brain, and think about something more than first down, the skewed power dynamic of NCAA athletics, and the old gridiron.

How's it been going so far? Are you completely invested in your alma mater's pigskin prowess once again? Does your team have a winning record? Are they even done beating up on sub-standard opponents from Podunk U and Wasamatta Tech? When are they finally going to dig in and play an honest-to-God opponent?!

Well, who cares?! That isn't what we talk about here!

Let's shift topics entirely.

***

What strategies do you employ to break out of boredom? When you find yourself in a routine that is sapping your energy rather than giving you comfort? How do you face it and try to change it? Do you attempt a large scale change that really rocks the boat and throws everything out in a big, scrambled mess? Or do you make small adjustments that subtly shift you toward a new direction?

Or do you face challenges that are more significant than boredom? Are you actually facing a crisis in your life? Bad job? No job? Inadequate health care? Unreliable childcare? Other? Do you have strategies for tackling these problems? Are their government services that help you? Or are private organizations the better way for you to find solutions? Do you have problems with these aids due to bureaucratic confusion or is it a time commitment issue? Both?

Can you talk to family or friends about these problems? Or do you feel alone with nowhere to go? Do you feel that there is a social safety net in place? Or do you think that society pushes us further apart and you have no connections around you to lift you up when you need help?

***

(I don't know where a lot of that came from. I started typing and then tried to reflect the problems and challenges that people have. Our modern world is complicated and, at least in my experience, the culture defines us as individuals (or atomized individual groups) floating alone in a sea of problems and maybe solutions. Maybe you are different. Maybe you have a strong connection to nearby family and friends who you are very comfortable turning to for aid and support. And it isn't like I don't have those as well, but my family is not nearby so it feels a bit different for me. And I was also raised to be independent and take care of my own problems. Which can be expected when my problems are not systemic, ongoing, and not significant. For others who face real, crushing disadvantages, the expectation to be independent is just another problem to add to the list.)

So . . . I don't know. I need to remember that the world can be very hard and it feels like we all face those hardships alone. But I guess I'm here now to say that if I can help you with your problems, I'd like to be asked. And while I won't stick my nose into your life unannounced--and I might not be the most courageous person to confront you about yourself--I can be of service.

***

So, I guess that is it for this week. I'll try to be more aware. Certainly more aware than your alma mater's backup quarterback is currently being on the sideline.

Sunday, September 08, 2019

Fall TV Preview 2019: Post Apocalypse Edition

This may well and truly be the final edition of my Fall TV previews.

Why?

Because TV barely exists anymore and the concept of "Fall TV" stopped being a real concept about four years ago. I only hold onto the conceit because I am imaginatively bankrupt.

Still, I feel the need to lead you through the radioactive wastelands of what used to be called the TV Zone--now a blasted wasteland of unpredictable premieres, new networks and programming outlets, whole seasons of content appearing overnight, and all the rest.

Follow me into the unthinkable . . . if you dare!


So, what will I do with mainstream television? Will I cut my ties to cable television before this calendar year is done? And if I do that, am I guaranteed to fill that entertainment void with Disney+ and the like? Will I shift my television connections purely to . . . let's say . . . DirecTV streaming? Streaming HBO Go? Will I stay on Hulu and Amazon Prime? Include Disney+? And even add CBS All Access? (But probably NOT Apple TV? Good lord--am I forgetting something?

It's a very complicated world forming out there and I haven't yet decided which way to jump? And a lot of it is going to depend on what are the comparison bills between pure streaming and mainstream cable + some streaming?

But enough nuts and bolts business talk--I've been watching too much Succession, I guess.

Let's get down to the business of which entertainments will demand my time this season?

A few behind-the-scenes notes. I am taking back the full reins of writing these posts this year. My friend Dean is far more focused on things that matter to him and fair enough. But if he changes his mind, he should know that my blog is always open to his thoughts on any television matter he wants to discuss. I've enjoyed collaborating with him over the years and I miss our lunchtime conversations on whatever is happening.

Otherwise--how to handle it this year? I am thinking that I am going to simplify things down even more this year and only have a single post that focuses on a few broad categories of shows. In this mixed up media world, how can I figure out what is the right thing to do? I can only tell you the story that I feel like telling. So . . . enough preamble.

Let's go!

Category I: the only show that truly matters

Holey Moley


You may quibble with my selection of this show on this list, since it was a summer show and is not being broadcast in the Fall. But I don't care. It was my best viewing experience of the last few months.
I loved the imagination. I loved the ridiculous contestants. I really loved the humorous commentary from the announcers. I loved the concept of extreme mini golf. I loved the notion that I might consider auditioning to be a contestant for next summer. And I love the idea that even if I somehow managed to get on the show, I would be a huge embarrassment to myself, my wife, my children. So. Much. Fun!

Category II: Shows to look forward to

The Good Place (NBC, September 26)
Last year, this was the only mainstream show that I could muster up any anticipation for. And this is the last season of The Good Place. So I hope that I enjoy it immensely. This show has proven its ability to reinvent itself many, many times in its short life. But I have found good things to like about it every time. I like the heart of the characters and the goodness within the show's message. This being season 4, I don't guess I can convince any of you to try it at this point. But since everything can be found on-demand and streamed whenever you feel like it, I'll try one more time before The Good Place ceases to be a "going concern." Watch it.

Watchmen (HBO, October 20)
Did you ever read the graphic novel? Did you watch the movie? What was your opinion on the movie? Did you like LOST? Damon Lindelof? Are you experiencing comic book fatigue? Do you have an HBO subscription? These are all relevant questions that will determine your interest level in Watchmen. I am favorable on all of the questions above, which I wrote, and which came out of my brain seconds ago. So . . . I'm going to be giving this show a try. I do hope that I like it.

Mr. Robot (and while we're at it . . . Briarpatch) (FX, October 6)
I kind of lost track of Mr. Robot. I thought that it was done. And I couldn't really tell you what happened in the last season--which I am sure that I definitely, for sure watched. The show was so interesting in season 1 and it was less so after that. But Rami Malek is still a fun actor to be involved with and the premise of the show is still (I think?) worth pursuing. So I'm going to at least try to look forward to it and give a few episodes a try. If I find myself scanning my phone more than I'm paying attention to the visuals? Well, then maybe I'll drop it before it finishes.

And I've got to make sure that my DVR series settings still have it ready to record.

And because of its production company connection to Mr. Robot creator and showrunner Sam Esmail, I want to put in a bit of a plug for Briarpatch. It is a new show that I believe will be on USA Network. It is based on a book and the head creator/showrunner is Andy Greenwald. I've loved Andy's TV reviews on Grantland and his podcasting acumen on The Watch. So I think this show will be full of character depth and intriguing to experience. Go look for its premiere and commit to watching it!

The Mandalorian (Disney+, November 12)



In case it is not obvious from the trailer above, the Mandalorian features the same race (?), citizens (?), sect (?) of people from the Star Wars planet Mandalor--where mysterious bounty hunter Boba Fett came from. I don't know, based on this alone, if this show is worth watching. But I liked Rogue One and I've been much more pleased with the recent SW movies since George Lucas left it all behind. So this might be one of the main reasons why I'd add this payment to my entertainment plan in the coming months.

Picard (CBS All Access, ____ 2020)
Speaking of space shows . . . I resisted joining up with CBS All Access last year--even when the critical buzz continued to say that the new flagship show, Star Trek: Discovery was excellent. Then CBS went ahead and delivered a new second Star Trek series focused on Jean Luc Picard. It really seems like they are doing good things. Will that persuade me to "Make it so?"

Looking for Alaska (Hulu, October 18)


Happy--belated--birthday to me! John Green's first publication is finally being filmed. Not as the long-rumored, often shopped movie, but as a Hulu series. And I'm very excited to watch it. The press on this one has been quiet--both from the network and from John himself. But I watched the original trailer and I thought it looked good. This story of high school love and mystery works very well with the Hulu brand and I think it can make a fun serialized show. If it does well, might we see a Will Grayson Will Grayson series next?

Stumptown (ABC, September 25)
What do I know? It's got Cobie Smolders. (Yes.) Jake Johnson. (Double yes.) And she is a private eye. (Fine.) Cobie's character seems like a less comic booked Agent Hill and I'm ready to give her a watch or two. It may end up being pretty predictable. But hey, I watched Whiskey Cavalier last year and enjoyed that diversion as well.

The Flash (The CW, October 8)
I'm still hanging in there with this superhero show, even though I dropped Arrow a while back as well as Supergirl. And I only ever gave Legends of Tomorrow part of a season. I don't know if I'll be willing to sample Batwoman (The CW, October 6) because I strongly lost interest in Gotham last season--even though I came back for the finale. I'm worried that Batwoman will be very focused on gender politics and be less about vigilante justice.

Silicon Valley (HBO), October 27)
The funniest show of computer nerds come back to finish out its story close to Halloween. But full disclosure, will I like it as much without T.J. Miller? I know he is supposed to be off the show now and I am sorry for that. I liked the tone of his character. But I'm sure the residuals from The Emoji Movie are keeping him in houses--even if he isn't yet a member of the Tres Commas club.

Marvels Runaways (Hulu, December 13)
This was one of the first shows Lynda and I watched when we started using Hulu. It's an okay superhero show. I'm willing to check in on it and see where things are now. It's based on a comic book story of teens who have super-ish powers and the twist is when they find out that their parents are the supervillains. So they escape from home to find out how to deal with this and how to deal with each other.

Category III: Be still my heart!

The New Pope (HBO, _____?)


It is entirely possible I might end up going to hell for loving this bananas show. But maybe if I balance it out by going to confession?
I'll risk it.

Kidding (Showtime, November 3)
See my pick for Number 1.

Mad About You (Spectrum, November 20)
Who do I have to kill to get Spectrum? Am I going to be able to watch this show? Do I WANT to watch this show? I'm intrigued, terrified, excited all at once. Lynda and I loved to watch this show so much back in our early marriage days. It only seems right that we all come back together again in our middling years of matrimony to check in on each other.

(Plus, I've got to find out if they have solved that vexing cell phone problem.)

Category IV: Why?!?!!

High School Musical: The Musical: The Series (Disney+, November 12)
Disney + may giveth, but Disney+ also taketh away. And no, those are NOT typos in the title. According to some child based research I've conducted in my own home, this show is not a bizarre reinvention of the beloved Zeffron vehicle. Rather it appears to be a documentary (Office-style mockumentary?) of kids preparing and auditioning for a musical based on the TV show. I don't think Disney content needs to be so meta. But when you've got an entire network to fill with programming, you mine your IP for whatever it is worth, I suppose.

***

So, what did I miss? Which shows premiering and returning in the fall are you excited for? How many streaming services are you willing to subscribe to? How badly do you miss Dean's takes on television?


Category V: Random bonus moment for long-time readers

Years ago I used to write a lot about how Scrubs was under-appreciated. Someone finally appreciates the TV show Scrubs!

Friday, September 06, 2019

Football Counter-Programming 2019--Week 3


Welcome back to a new week of this season's Football Counter-Programming. In which I work slightly hard to divert your attention from Saturday college football clogging up your social media feeds.

This week? A window into my soul!

***

I have a fondness for logos and sports design. And I have a weakness for insanely stupid corporate hype copy. For example, I enjoy incredulously reading the descriptions on the side of beer bottles and cans.

And then on Thursday, August 22, this Ringer post dropped into my lap.

Now . . . I know . . . the goal of Football Counter-Programming is about diverting you FROM football. But the XFL isn't college football is it? And it doesn't perform on Saturdays, does it? And it isn't even available for consumption yet is it?

So, I think I'm fine to proceed here.

***

Before I get to the stuff I really want to focus on, I'd just like to say that I would--if I ever lose my current job--like to try and break into the field of corporate hype writing. It combines strong elements of brand brainwashing, insane confidence, frequent use of a thesaurus, and a desire to overwhelm the consumer with . . . something. Desire? Longing? Stockholm Syndrome?

And also, read carefully the details of the Ringer story that I posted above. Its seems that the XFL is leaning super hard on a Trump-based, MAGA, fan base with its must stand for national anthem regulations. I really have no belief that the NFL has been Kaepernick'd at all over the last two years. But if the XFL can out-Republican the NFL, then maybe there is hope of splinter political parties and a multi-party America after all?

But now, on to the hype copy!

Read this description of the St. Louis Battlehawks:

Are you not entertained!?!!!

Aren't you ready to strap on your jockstrap and risk your brain's future health all for the glory of the Battlehawks!?! Aren't you ready to curb stomp anyone who doesn't sufficiently MAGA the flag?

If you are, then this hype copy has definitely done its job.

I do worry, however, that the Houston Roughnecks have stolen the inspirational ethos of late 90s Columbus Crew (Hardest Working Team, etc):



It's pretty bizarre, right? But it is also entirely in line with what football is supposed to be.

Masculine. Hyper-aggro. Dependable. Gritty. Outlaw. Badass. Swagger. All of those adjectives that make me want to cringe and disagree with my voting record. All of the things that (apparently) you want in a sports hero--and perhaps a business corporate raider--but none of the things that you want to see walking toward you out in the world itself.

In short--the fantasy we want to tell others about ourselves and our nation. (At least from this exclusively male-centric point of view.)

So, as I type more, I realize that this ad-copy dream job is just another fantasy of my own making. It seems like fun. But wouldn't I hate myself while doing it? 

Would I become my own HeHateMe?

Well . . . just as long as YOU don't hate me, I'll be okay.

Come back next week for another edition of FC-P 2019.

And remember . . . it doesn't matter how well your alma mater might mirror the down-to-earth toughness of your campus town, they've still lace em up one foot at a time just like their gridiron opponent. So, let's be kind out there--at least to the halftime band members.

See you next Saturday!

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Football Counter-Programming 2019: Week 2


Welcome back to another week of Football Counter-Programming. It's my seasonal attempt to get you doing something other than watch Saturday college football by disrupting your alumni social media feed with something other than sports. How well do I accomplish this? Well, you tell me. Are you reading this on Saturday afternoon rather than waiting through another Home Depot commercial to see your favorite school pound a week 1 cupcake opponent?

I sincerely hope that is the case.

***

So, I'm sure that you've heard the big cinematic news of the month--the breakdown of profit-sharing talks between Sony and Marvel Studios over the film rights to the Spider Man character.

Not since we learned that Kenneth Branaugh was going to direct a movie about Thor have the Marvel fans been so worried. How can Tom Holland survive? The news says that he'll still make Sony-created, stand-alone Spider Man movies, but it won't be connected to Marvel? (And to be clear, I am a big fan of Holland's Sony movies. I've appreciated his narrative connection to the MCU but I really like what has been happening with this new version of Peter Parker on his own.

But the fact remains that unless Kevin Feige and Disney back down from their initial aggressive profit-sharing demands, our boy Tom Holland may never show up as a new Avenger in the future and he won't be spending time with Falcon and Ant Man. How do we solve this problem?

If I understand things correctly, Sony isn't granting the right for their Peter Parker/Spider Man intellectual property from appearing in a Marvel movie. But does that prevent Tom Holland the actor from being in an MCU movie--as long as he doesn't wear a Spidey suit and no one ever calls him Peter Parker?

(I don't know how the language of his contract is written, but play along with me and just assume that Sony doesn't have lawyers that are so good that they can tell Holland what to do with his time as a professional actor 24/7/365.)

If my assumption is okay, then I can think of two options--

One--Holland becomes the MCU "guy in the chair" with a new code name. He never uses his own spider-powers again--at least not when he's around the Avengers. This turns him into a  Barbara Gordon/Oracle type.

Two--Disney works out a compromise with Sony and lets Holland join the scrap heap of deceased Spider Men actors that litter the past two decades The other part of that deal is that the MCU is integrated into the "Into the Spiderverse" verse. Imagine the press write-ups that spend so much time praising the technological wizardry on display when, ten years from now, Black Panther III features an animated Miles Morales! Imagine all of the befuddled Ant-Man jokes Paul Rudd gets to deliver when he encounters an animated Spider-Man! It would give a whole new spice to Phase V of the MCU--exactly when Kevin Feige needed it most!

But if that isn't what you want, how about enlisting a new Marvel character to serve as the replacement for Spider-Man within the MCU? If Tom Holland is lost and no amount of cleverness can bring back the relationship, then how does Disney and Marvel reconcile the plot thread where Peter Parker was being set up as the replacement for Tony Stark? My next idea offers up a character who is also young like Peter Parker, who has a hip comic book that is popular, who brings much-needed diversity and femininity to the MCU . . . and who happens to already be deep in the corporate clutches of the Disney + streaming universe.

I'm talking about Ms.Marvel, Kamala Khan, the star of the comic The Magnificent Ms. Marvel.

Her character is located in New Jersey, so it is close to the center of a great deal of Marvel action--conveniently (I guess?) across the river from Avengers Tower.

She has worked with the Avengers before. She recently acquired a costume upgrade (courtesy of an alien world encounter) that shows some self-aware/AI capabilities that work well within the Stark Industries/Jarvis/Friday/Karen mental suit "system" that we've grown accustomed to.

But don't get her mixed up with Captain Marvel--though I wouldn't blame you if that happened because Kamala Khan and Carol Danvers are definitely intertwined.

(And as I was searching around for images, I saw more than one web story that already backs up my--very obvious--idea.)

***

So, there you have it. Crisis averted.

Until next time, remember that I'm available next week to help your alumni's offensive coordinator whip those young men into shape before the important conference games begin in October. They have to be doing more than give the old-college-try to beat their old rivals on Homecoming week!

Go outside and pick some apples!

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Football Counter-Programming 2019: Week 1


First, let me apologize.
When I sat down to write last week's preseason post, I automatically and without thinking started looking for a marching band image. But once the post was up, I realized I had fallen down on the job and not gone far enough to set this new season of Football Counter-Programming apart from last.

And that is on me.

If I am not going to set a high standard for this bit of weekly nonsense, who else is? I know it isn't really accomplishing anything because college football continues on its merry way each and every week of the fall every trip around the sun. Everyone continues to expect Alabama to win and everyone puts The [c.] Ohio State University in the preseason Top 5. EVERY. YEAR it keeps on happening. And the boosters say inappropriate things and do semi-illegal things. And EVERY. YEAR your televisions fill up with oblong sports ball. And its always just a prelude to professional National Football and every year, every year, every single year!

So, no. I am under no delusions that my little blog experiment will make anything change ever.

Especially when, last week, I had a clear set of ideas for what I might write about on week 1. But tonight when I sat down to start typing, I quickly realized that I had no idea at all. (Which you should all be expecting by now . . . as that is my modus operandi.)

But yeah, I sat down to try and determine what my visual theme would be--since I wasn't going to duplicate last year's theme again this season. I'd already done "football + nerd" and "football + band", then "weird imagery", and then just straight-up "marching band".

So, I am going to try using the keywords "anti-football" as that is the spirit of my experiment. And wouldn't you know I get lots and lots of soccer. But I won't be leaning on soccer every week. And maybe I'll find a better keyword search at some other point when inspiration happens to strike. (And I guess it's not a violation of the theme if I am saying upfront that the theme might end up being "no theme?")

What else?

I haven't committed to start the Fall TV Preview posts yet. That may get done before September comes and goes. As I've said in the past, it is harder to craft a border around that idea now that TV has so thoroughly atomized itself into individual quarks of entertainment. Maybe I can be the Einstein that spends the rest of my fruitless life trying to craft the General Theory of Televised Entertainment? (Or maybe I come up with some half-baked science theme for this years Fall TV posts? If you have suggestions, I would appreciate a commented direction . . . if you are even reading down this far in the post.)

Anyway. I guess that is it for tonight. It's a lackluster start. Just like your alma mater's less than perfect performance against a mediocre opponent. But just remember, all that matters in the first part of the season is that you show up and don't screw up. Let muscle memory take over and help get you limbered up for when it really counts in Month 2.

Until next time!


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.

Deal?

Okay.

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

via GIPHY

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.