Saturday, October 31, 2015

Football Counter-Programming 2015--Week 9


Welcome back again, my friends! Have you had a good week? Mine has been pretty good, overall. Work has been fine and home life has been smooth. Everyone ate, drank, slept, and did everything they needed to do. And what more is there to life sometimes than making it through? As Autumn shifts to winter, as the weather gets colder and things intensify . . . occasionally, you just have to make it through. So, pat yourself on the back for making it through another week. If you weren't satisfied with how things went over the past seven days, congratulations for holding up high standards. And cheer up. There is another week right around the corner. You'll do better this next time, I am sure.

But now . . . it's time for everyone's favorite weekend digital diversion. It's another entry in WWYG?!'s Football Counter-Programming! Did your team win last weekend? Did your team "cover the spread"? Did your team slowly choke the athletic life out of that mid-major conference cupcake opponent that you had no business playing?

Who cares! No one around here cares. Because that is the point of the FC-P. It's a safe space to admit that football is NOT the most important thing that happens to you all week. Here is the place where we can talk about how we spent two hours enjoying the leaves change color while on a walk with our kids. Here is the place where we can plan that trip to make apple cider with our girlfriend. Here is the place where you can tell me about how much you enjoy candle-making in the cute shop downtown next to the furniture store.

I want to here all about it in the comments. Show your diversity. Admit about what you love. There is no judgment here.

And, now that we've gotten the rules out of the way, let's see what the Log Lady has to tell us. What cryptic advice or strange thoughts could she have to guide me through what I'll type for the subject matter this week?


It is true that we all have a way about us. That alchemical combination of stances, steps, body movements, and actions that define us--especially to those who know us best. We spend our lifetime learning more about ourselves and defining and refining who we are, as well as how we present ourselves to the world. 

And once we have a handle on that version of our self, it is distinctive and unique. Even, in this season of costumes and momentary personality shifts, our true self can shine through for those who are looking beyond the superficial.

And you should not be upset when this happens. I happen to think that discovering who *I* am is one of my great life achievements. (And I'll let you know when I'm finished making that discovery.)

Going through life is such an exercise in self-discovery and changing self-definition. And I hope I can and do change as I age. Because that means that I am being confronted with difference and challenge. And those challenges are opportunities for me to rethink something I thought I knew or to consider what I do believe in a new set of circumstances. I am not suggesting that I easily change what I think at every opportunity. But I hope that I can find ways to embrace the world outside of myself and still remain true to the core norms and expectations that define who I am. 

The world is complicated. And it gets more complicated all the time. I do not understand all of it either--because I can't experience all of that complexity in my limited slice of the Earth that I inhabit. I want to be open to the possibility of change. I don't want to be closed off and afraid.

No matter what costume I happen to be wearing, I would like my way of acceptance to "shine through." Allow me to dance through my own song, adjusting to the sharp drumbeats as needed to keep the dance going and keep my own definition intact.

Until next week, remember . . .

. . . no one cares if your team's defensive line hasn't been living up to its potential for the last month.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Watching Star Wars: The Abrams Influence

Over the weekend, we decided to introduce Hannah to the Star Wars movie franchise. (Well, to be honest, I wanted to watch the movies again, as prep for this December's newest episode VII installment. And so we decided that it was time to introduce Hannah to the Star Wars franchise.)

But . . . how should we do it?

This is a very relevant question for now and for the future. Obviously, when I was a kid, there was only one option--Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and then Return of the Jedi. They came out in the theaters and then we were introduced to the idea of rewatchability via VCRs/DVDs. But there was no question about in what order the story should be experienced.

My Original Experience

But now? Well, my first  two children were born and introduced to the franchise when the Prequel movies (Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Episode II: The Clone Wars, Episode III: The Revenge of the Sith) were being introduced and at the height of their influence. So . . . for better (and probably for worse--as you will see later), I chose to show the six movies in chronological order to Sarah and Grace, from Episode I to Episode VI: the Prequels and then the Originals.

Sarah and Grace's Experience

But . . . well, we all know that the prequels weren't the BEST additions to the Star Wars franchise that we all hoped for. The Jake Lloyd Anakin Baby. The revelation of midichlorians. The horrible stilted dialogue between Padme and Anakin at the Lakes of Naboo. Jar Jar Effing Binks. The struggles of watching Hayden Christiansen try desperately to emote and simply landing on confused. The High Ground.

Yeah . . . it was suboptimal. But . . . for better and for worse, it is part of the official Star Wars canon. and so, we're back to the original question that we faced for Hannah. How should she watch the movies? What is the best way for her to get the complete story, but not hand such weight on the weakness of Episodes I-III so early on. I mean, if individuals got TOO disenchanted with the ham-handedness of the Prequels, they might never persevere enough to get to the more decent movies beyond.

And then . . . I figured out the way that I think works best for me. And, as fate would have it, it is heavily influenced by the director of the newest movie: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (coming to dominate the world this December).

I, as you may know by now, am a big fan of J.J. Abrams work. I loved the TV show Alias. I adored the TV show LOST. I liked almost all of the TV show Fringe. I've watched his Star Trek reboot movies with much satisfaction. I enjoyed his other movies--Super 8, Cloverfield,and even some of the efforts he has made in Tom Cruise's Mission: Impossible franchise.

And, if there is one thing that I know about Abrams is his strong love of the flashback. He utilizes the technique in lots of his creative storytelling. And so, why not give a strong homage to Abrams when trying to sequence the most optimal way to tell the Star Wars story?

So, I propose that we work the Prequel Episodes I-III as flashbacks within The Empire Strikes back.

The Abrams Influence Method
Think of it. We are introduced to Luke Skywalker, a young nobody raised as an orphan on the planet Tatooine. We see him learn some of the truth about who his father was: a talented space pilot and even . . . a Jedi--a master of the old religious order that once maintained peace in the galaxy. Luke begins to learn something of the Jedi ways from old Ben (nee Obi-Wan) Kenobi. But then Kenobi is cut down by Darth Vader during the Rebel Alliance's efforts to destroy the Death Star super weapon. We cheer as Luke and the Rebels triumph in destroying the Death Star and then buckle in to follow our heroes on their journey to fight the Empire.

In Episode V, we see the strengthened Rebel Alliance continue their efforts to destroy the Empire. Luke fully commits to his Jedi training with Master Yoda . . . but something goes wrong in the swamps of Dagobah. Luke sees strange visions connecting him to Darth Vader. What does it mean? When he rushes to Bespin the save his friends, he confronts Vader face-to-face . .. and Vader drops the bombshell. 

Vader is Luke's father?

(What do you think about THAT, Master Skywalker?)

Now . . .


Pull out The Empire Strikes Back at this point and begin telling the sad tale of Anakin Skywalker's downfall. Begin with The Phantom Menace, then run through The Clone Wars, and then Finish with The Revenge of the Sith. See how Anakin's power was corrupted and twisted by his love for Padme and his fear of losing her.

Then . . . pick up Episode V right where Vader tells Luke the truth and stretches out his glove. Watch Luke recoil in horror and give in to his own despair, letting go of the tower and falling into the airshaft. Watch the end of Empire and then move into Return of the Jedi. Now, you can watch as a PTSD Luke Skywalker, last of the Jedi Masters tries his hardest to believe that there is a glimmer of goodness left in the shell of Anakin Skywalker within the armor of Darth Vader. You've seen how Anakin fell and you are left to wonder if Luke is right.

So . . . what do you think?

(Truthfully, I'm probably NOT the first person to think of this. But I'm not bothering to research and find out what others before me have already said. It is what I'm trying with Hannah and we'll see how it works.)

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Football Counter-Programming 2015--Week 8

Did you miss me last weekend? (Did you even notice that I was gone?)

Well, I was. I was with my family at the Procter Camp and Conference Center down south of Columbus and we were enjoying a family weekend with some of the members of my church. We carved pumpkins, enjoyed the bright (if colder than I wanted) weather, ate good food, and found as much time as we could to relax.

Some of that time was spent watching some of the key college football games of the weekend--but only if you wanted to participate. And I tried to do very little of that. Because I've got a standard of avoiding college games to uphold. And you expect nothing less of me.

But that was last week and now is this week. And you need to keep on avoiding college football for another day. And Football Counter-Programming is here to help you with that effort.

So, let's see what cryptic nonsense the Log Lady has to offer me this week. Will I be in a better mood than two weeks ago?


Well . . .


How is this going to help me? What sort of theme can I dig out of this quote? Do I write about eyes? Or should I try to write something about the nature of the soul? (Or maybe um . . . soul food?) Or, maybe darkness? Or something about beauty?


Hmm. Well . . . let's try beauty.

What do YOU think is beautiful? When you are seeking out a beautiful thing, maybe to help calm you down when you are upset. Or maybe to recenter yourself after a tough week of work. When you need something to soothe . . . what is beautiful to you?

For me . . . I enjoy nature. One of my fondest memories of growing up was a random weekend trip that I took with my parents to a camp ground an hour of so from our home--Lake Blackshear. My siblings were all grown, out of the house, in college . . . just elsewhere that weekend. So I was camping with Mom and Dad on my own. And the memory is not so much about what we did. Because we didn't do that much. And the beauty wasn't overwhelming. We weren't in the North Georgia campgrounds where all of the trees and waterfalls can be found, where the hiking trails help you step away from daily life. We were just as a camp ground, beside the lake that is often squishy with mud and plant fronds.

No . . . what I liked about that trip was the simple act of getting up in the morning, when the sun was low on the horizon, making the lake water shimmer, a slight chill in the morning breeze. I was up and everything was quiet. I poured myself a hot cup of coffee, sat in a folding chair outside the camper, and enjoyed the sunrise.

It's a memory of simplicity and quietness. It's not stunning or dramatic or filled with the insights of other people. It was just me with my thoughts and a moment of burgeoning adulthood and independence. I was opening myself up to the world just a little bit, with the help of a still natural moment.

Blendon Woods metro park
I've had other encounters with nature--walking in the Columbus-area metro parks surrounded by autumn's golden leaves, enjoying some solitude and the distant hum of cars on roads. Or hiking with family along trails on the way to this fall or that spot, chatting with siblings or spouses, listening to nieces and nephew. I've even had some quiet moments while catching my breath during a driveway snow shoveling session in the dark hours before taking kids to school and heading off to work.

Do you have moments of natural appreciation that mean something to you? Or have you found beauty in a piece of art handing in a gallery? Or maybe a photograph of your kids or a particularly nice flower in your yard? Or something you have seen in travels that made you stop and enjoy?

Leave a comment and tell me what is beautiful to you.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Football Counter-Programming 2015--Bye Week

Every football season has one week off. It is called a bye week.


I don't know.

But this is my FC-P bye week.

Until I try to distract you next week, remember . . . no one cares if your team successfully pulled off that late-game 2-point conversion.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Football Counter-Programming 2015--Week 6

Hooo boy. What a week of non-football related stuff it has been for me. And so, why should YOU be allowed to think about football when I most definitely cannot?

So . . . its another week of everyone's favorite Fall event that doesn't include the letters P, S, or L.

It's Football Counter-Programming!

Come on Log Lady. I really need some help shaping the topic this week. What have you got for me?

From episode 5 "Cooper's Dreams"
As fate or the cosmos would have it . . . the Log Lady's words this week are extremely prophetic to my state of mind right now. I definitely feel like I am playing a part on a stage that everyone is looking at. A spotlight is an uncomfortable place to be and I am living my (very small) part of it in a very hot, very uncomfortable space.

I would LOVE to form the perfect answer to try and explain this spotlight away. But it is so very true that the "answer cannot come before all are ready to hear" (or when the corporate rules disallow).

In today's social media world (and of which I am definitely a part) people never show a willingness or a readiness to hear others and to listen. That is simply not how we use the Internet. Will it every be a place where reason and logic can play any part? Or will it simply be an echo chamber in which anger is shouted? A place in which only supporting views are propped up? Human nature being what it is, the answer to those questions is . . . probably not.

So, I guess blaming the Internet culture won't get me anywhere.

My "anger at the fire" is extremely evident right now. And I know that it is both childish and disingenuous to complain about the nature of the Internet . . . now that Ï* am within its glare. People tend to whinge when things don't go their way. Will that stop them when the spotlight shifts to become someone else's problem? Or will they deserve it?

I hope that I am honest when I say that I have tried (especially since the 2012 election cycle) NOT to contribute to this Internet culture of the Five-Minute Hate. As this series of posts demonstrates, I try to keep it light and fun as often as not. There is enough anger in the world (and online) that I don't need to be contributing to it any further. And, as the events of this week have amply proven, anger only fuels more anger. It is not an environment where reason and persuasion lives comfortably.

So . . . how am I supposed to respond to all of this?

First and foremost, I try my best to maintain civility in my online discourse. Remember to try and imagine the other people on the other side of my screen as complex human beings with their own problems and dreams. I can't lash out in anger and narrow-mindedness just because they have. That doesn't make it better or widen the rules of acceptability.



I just don't know how to go forward with this. I've been struggling on how to think about it all week long. As usual, I put the blame on myself for not being intellectual enough, for not taking things as seriously as they need to be taken and for diverting myself too much.

So . . . what will come? I don't know. I guess I'll just continue to stew in my vagueness until things change and the spotlight moves somewhere else.


(The next day . . .)

As I sit editing this (yes, I do edit and think about these posts a bit), trying to figure out my thoughts, I am also listening to this week's Dear Hank & John podcast.
They are coincidentally talking about the struggles of seeing both sides of a political argument--(at the 19:07 mark).This made me think a bit more about my situation. It reinforces the fact that we don't have to live in a yes or no world--no matter how badly the Internet wishes it were so.

I encourage you to listen to this episode and to all of their episodes. In between the fun and jokes are moments of good advice (really, there is some).

So, that is going to be it for this week. Lots of vague hanky waving.

But . . . until next week . . . don't forget that no one else cares whether your team successfully employed the no-huddle offense to tie the game before halftime last week.

* I in the corporate sense. If I, alone, myself, was in this predicament, I would be curled in a ball in my bedroom and certainly not typing about this or anything else at all.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Football Counter-Programming 2015--Week 5

Welcome back and welcome in everybody! I hope that you have had a good week and that all of your two-point conversions worked in your favor. But that is the LAST time in this post that you'll hear me mention football tactics. . . because this is another week of Football Counter-Programming!

So . . . week 5. And what shall we cover as the topic this week? Last week, you might remember (if you read) we looked at sadness. And I am sad to report that the actress that played the Log Lady in Twin Peaks died in this past week. So, I have only good thoughts for Catherine Coulson.

As always, we honor her by using her episode introductions to look for a theme for the FC-P posts. This week's introduction comes from episode 4 "The One-Armed Man."

Do you dream? Well . . . I guess everyone dreams, but do you remember your dreams on a consistent basis? 

I don't--though I have sometimes written about dreams that I can remember here on WWYG?!

How about this question--Do you laugh?

How often do you laugh? Is it often enough?

I bet it is not as often as you would like it to be. So now you need to ask yourself: why is that? Why don't we all try to maximize the time that we laugh every day? Even though we need to be serious and successful in our careers and we need to provide for our families and for ourselves (that ole Protestant Work Ethic). . . but are we missing out on chances to see the humor in the world? Are we being so serious that we can't find moments to laugh every day?

I try to present myself as a funny guy. [I'll pause here for your abrupt fit of laughter to subside into stunned silence. Okay, ready now?]

Yeah, I know that I'm not always funny. But I do try to see the humor in things. And sure, there are times when I have rethought that strategy and wondered if I make too many jokes and I wonder if I am perceived as a jokey guy without deep thought or substance. But then I try to get over that concern. Because . . . as the bumper sticker says, YOLO and all that stuff. Seize the day, right? If you take life too seriously, you're pondering glistening wheelbarrows and apologizing for eating your roommates plums.

I guess, in the long run, I'd rather be remembered for making someone laugh because I had some humorous insight on something. Let other people be impressed by their in-depth understanding of the difference between macroeconomics and microeconomics. I'll try to make you chuckle by comparing macroeconomics to whether or not your wallet and waistline can afford more Stouffers Macaroni and Cheese dinners.

(Clearly, I've got more studying to do.)

But that's it for this week. Until next weekend, remember . . . no one else cares if the third running back on your team's depth chart could start for any other team in the Big Ten.