Saturday, November 25, 2017

Football Counter-Programming 2017: Week 13

This is my final week of the (regular season) Football Counter-Programming for 2017. I am pretty sure I'll try again during the weekend of conference championship games to drive your eyeballs in different directions. I don't have any illusions that I'll be able to do so. But for this weekend? I'm IN IT to WIN IT! (Copyright Guy Fieri, 2012).

ANYWAY . . .

It's been Thanksgiving here in the United States. (Hi to all of my imaginary international readers!) And so hopefully you have thankful hearts still overflowing with a new perspective on the world. Or maybe you only have your belly overflowing the top of your waistband? But I hope it is the former.

As for me, I'm always trying to keep a good perspective. To not be too complain-y. To find the silver lining (or maybe look for the silver sandwich?) And this video from a talk given at my church this past Sunday afternoon helped me a bit in that direction this week. So I am providing it here in the hopes that it might help you as well. I know that it is more than four minutes long, but I encourage you to sit and listen to Rabbi Benjy's thoughts. That football game is not going anywhere, you most likely hit pause on your TV, and even if you simply walk away from the game to read this, you'll probably only miss a few failed run plays and some commercials.

So . . . here are the thoughts of Rabbi Benjy from New Albany's Temple Beth Shalom, as given during the Interfaith Thanksgiving service held at All Saints Episcopal Church.

I hope you have had a fine holiday weekend and I hope that you are inspired to approach the next five to six weeks with gratitude, an eye to share blessings, and a thoughtful heart.

Until next time . . . remember. No matter how many letters of the alphabet you choose to omit in any given week, that has absolutely no bearing on how a sports game will be played. But good for you for trying, I guess.

Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Football Counter-Programming 2017: Week 12

I don't know what to write about today.

So--let's talk about turkey. Tis the season to discuss America's first bird, the almost national symbol, the food-based avatar of our holiday hopes and dreams.

How do you like to eat it?

Roasted, deep fried, or only prepared by someone else? Do you like the breast meat or would you ignore all of that in favor of the dark meats? Or would you ignore the bird entirely if you could get delicious stuffing and sides every day--or possibly pecan or pumpkin pie?

(And . . . do you like your pecan pie the traditional syrup way or do you prefer the chess variety?)

Andbutso . . .

I like my turkey roasted. But I always brine it overnight before putting it in the oven. I have a dedicated/labeled 10-gallon Thermos cooler drink dispenser that is only used for this process.

For those of you in the know, this is Alton Brown's preferred method for turkey preparation. He's done it more than once on Good Eats, but I think this clip is the first one:

Beyond that? It's simply putting it in the oven and waiting. And it never takes as long for my turkeys to roast as the television shows would have you believe. But that may be because I don't buy enormous birds? Or maybe I'm just THAT GOOD at Thanksgiving preparations?

Anyway--other than the birds, I love to make stuffing (with apples, raisins, and pecans)--even more than mashed potatoes and gravy. And we favor the green bean casserole and the sweet potato casserole, as well as crescent rolls, maybe some fruit ambrosia, and probably two pies (definitely pumpkin and if I'm lucky a variety of pecan).

In short, we are very, very down-the-line traditional with our T-day fixins.

Do you do anything out of the ordinary? Once the food is done and eaten, do you watch the NFL? Or the Macys parade in the morning? Do you decorate for Christmas that same weekend? Do you not cook at all and prefer to go out to eat?

Let me know what you like to do and look forward to during the food/celebration season.

And remember . . . the college football year is coming to a close. There is very little that can change about your team'ss' chances--no matter how hard the sports commentator talking heads try to fill up thirty minutes convincing you otherwise. So . . . dust off those board games and DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT!

Until the final game of the regular season arrives next week!

Thanks for clicking in.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Football Counter-Programming 2017: Week 11

Every week, I am trying to distract you and get you to think about something other than college football. And almost every week, I am certain that I fail miserably to achieve that goal. But--at least in the Midwest region where I am now living--I forgot that the best way to achieve my goal (even if I don't do it myself) is with a healthy serving of Urban Meyer Sad Pizza.

More than one Buckeye loss per season (especially a definitive one such as was handed out in Iowa last Saturday) can make lots of people in Ohio find something else to do on a Saturday.

BUT . . . that's all the football talk we will devote to this week's post. I'm here to make you think of other things.

And the thing this week is my Stranger Things 2 playlist. You've heard of Stranger Things, right? Have you watched all of season 2? Do you have a strong opinion about episode 7? As for me. . . I didn't mind it at all. Anyway, I recently posted (in non-Counter-Programming news) my Stranger Things season 1 playlist. You can enjoy those few moments of context and diversion here.

So, now that you are all caught up . . . here is my playlist for Stranger Things 2. I hope you like it. As with the season 1 playlist, these songs are either featured in the episodes--in which case I identify the episode and a brief description of the context for the music--or I was inspired by events to find a suitable song that related.

1. Walkin in Hawkins, (ST2 soundtrack)
This synth song serves as a nice way to ease our way back into Hawkins, Indiana in 1984.

2. "Whip It," Devo (ep. 1 MADMAX)
This song plays in the arcade scene during the first few moments of the first episode. As with many songs of this era (when I was almost exactly the same age as the kids in this show) I heard Devo from my two older brothers. Was I sort of the Will to their Jonathan?

3. "Rock You Like  Hurricane," Scorpions (ep. 1 MADMAX)
I was never a heavy metal or hair metal fan growing up. But when you are embracing nostalgia as hard as the Duffer Brothers, you've gotta go with it. This song play when Billy shows up on the scene in Hawkins. What a guy.

4. "California Girls," David Lee Roth
This song was inspired by the appearance of Max and her mysterious California cool presence.

5. "Backdoor Man," The Doors
Another song not in the show itself, but inspired by the passionate storage closet necking scene between Joyce Byers and one Bob Newby. You go Bob. Live your best life!

6. "Hello," Lionel Ritchie
Inspired by Mike's whistful attempts to contact Eleven with the walkie-talkie.

7. "Ghostbusters theme," Ray Parker, Jr. (ep. 2 Trick or Treat, Freak)
Back to the show's chosen sound here, as the Party puts on their Halloween costumes and prepares for their day at school.

8. "Wango Tango," Ted Nugent (ep. 2 Trick or Treat, Freak)
Billy and Max are in the Firebird. Billy tries to murder Dustin and Lucas on their bikes with his reckless driving.

9. "Shout at the Devil," Motley Crue (ep. 2 Trick or Treat, Freak)
This is playing while Nancy and Steve are hanging out at Tina's Halloween party.

10. "Talking in Your Sleep," The Romantics (ep. 1 MADMAX)
Steve and Nancy discuss college applications and the future. (But they leave other things unsaid.)

11. "Islands in the Stream," Feist & Constantines (ep. 2 Trick or Treat, Freak)
Bob is putting the Dracula moves on Joyce after the kids have left them alone to go get candy. The show used the original Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton duet . . . but I wanted a different version.

12. "Girls on Film," Duran Duran (ep. 2 Trick or Treat, Freak)
More music from Tina's Halloween party.

13. "You Don't Mess Around with Jim," Jim Croce (ep. 3 The Pollywog) '
Hopper tries to teach Eleven about good music, during the flashback showing how she ended up in his backwoods cabin between seasons 1 and 2.

14. "Just Another Day," Oingo Boingo (ep. 1 MADMAX)
Background music while Hopper shows up at the police station.

15. "Scarface (Push it to the Limit)," Paul Engemann (ep. 4 Will the Wise)
The epic basketball confrontation between Billy and (former) King Steve Harrington.

16. "Levitation" (ST2 soundtrack)

17. "Blue Bayou," Roy Orbison (ep. 6 The Spy)
Nancy and Jonathan eat breakfast at Murray's place. Jonathan thinks about how the pullout was . . .

18. "Round and Round," Ratt (ep. 6 The Spy)
Billy lifts weights.

19. "Eulogy" (ST2 soundtrack)
The warbly synthesizers that are favored in the soundtrack music make you sad and make you laugh simultaneously.

20. "Dead End Justice," The Runaways (ep. 7 The Lost Sister)
The controversial seventh episode--which I happened to like, as I said above. But the real controversy is how much this song änd its usage is identical to the "Cherrybomb" Getting Ready to Do Stuff montage from Guardians of the Galaxy.

21. "Love is a Battlefield," Pat Benatar (ep. 9 The Gate)
Everyone is getting ready for the Snow Ball.

22. "Every Breath You Take," The Police (ep. 9 The Gate)
The happiness of the Snow Ball gets sinister when you see that the Mind Flayer is still looming over Hawkins.

And so . . . there you go.

Enjoy these songs by finding me on Spotify (search for user "david_t_martin"). And remember . . . no one thinks that a two-loss team--even one from a power conference--is going to work its way back into the playoff bracket.

Until next week!

Monday, November 06, 2017

Stranger Things playlist

As I was preparing to watch Stranger Things 2 at the end of last month, I went ahead and rewatched Stranger Things season one again. And while I was doing that, I felt inspired to create a playlist of the songs within and inspired by the first season.

So, here are my choices--along with the episode that the music appears in, and a brief explanation.

1. The Stranger Things theme (s1 soundtrack)

2. "White Rabbit," Jefferson Airplane (ep. 1 The Disappearance of Will Byers)
This song plays over the radio (I think) when agents from Hawkins Lab show up at Benny's diner. Eleven narrowly escapes recapture. But Benny gets shot and dies.

3. "Eleven" (s1 soundtrack)

4. "Raise a Little Hell," Trooper (ep. 2 The Weirdo on Maple Street)
Steve greets Nancy and Barb in the Harrington house front doorway for their after-hours pool party. (The clock is ticking on you Barbara.)

5. "Photograph," Def Leppard
This song is not played in the season, but I was inspired by Jonathan's creepy camera session from the woods behind the Harrington house while the party is winding down.

6. "I Melt With You," Modern English (ep. 2 The Weirdo on Maple Street)
More music from the pool party, when everyone is hanging out by the pool. This is where Barb unsuccessfully shotguns a beer and get a (fatal) cut on her hand.

7. "Hazy Shade of Winter," The Bangles (ep. 2 The Weirdo on Maple Street)
I feel like this was a smash-cut song that began with the end title sequence, just after Barb is x-ed off the board by the Demogorgon. #Sad.

8. "Payphone," Maroon 5 and Wiz Khalifa
Inspired by the pre-cellphone technology of 1980s Hawkins, Indiana. Especially when Hopper uses a random payphone by the side of the road to try and figure out where Eleven is from. (I never grew up in a town with lots of payphones, but I don't recall seeing any that were just sitting on the side of a road that looked like a state highway heading out of town.)

9. "Heroes," David Bowie (ep. 3 Holly Jolly)
Mysterious things happen between the Party and Eleven at the quarry. (I went with the Bowie version instead of the show's use of Peter Gabriel. Sarah wanted the Bowie version.)

10. "Upside Down," Diana Ross
Inspired by . . . well . . . what else?

11. "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" The Clash (ep. 4 The Body)
Jonathan remembers a flashback scene when he taught Will about good music.

12. "Sunglasses at Night," Corey Hart (ep. 6 The Monster)
Steve . . . in his car. Glorious.

13. "The Bargain Store," Dolly Parton (ep. 6 The Monster)
Jonathan and Nancy gear up at the Army surplus store to head into the Upside Down. Looking back at this song after watching Stranger Things 2, it is clear to me that the Duffer Brothers have a thing for Dolly Parton. Still and all . . . this is a good song.

14. "Exit," Tangerine Dream (ep. 6 The Monster)
Jonathan and Steve fight in the alley.

15. "Breathe (in the Air)," Pink Floyd
Inspired by the funky stuff that floats around in the Upside Down.

16. "Somebody's Watching Me," Rockwell
Inspired by the ending of season 1.

I tried to find songs that were early 1980s era-appropriate when I went outside of the songs featured in the show itself.

(If you liked this idea and you want to hear the songs, go to Spotify and search for my user name

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Football Counter-Programming 2017: Week 10

It's week 10 everybody! Do you know where your football team is?

Well--you SHOULDN'T--because I'm here every Saturday trying to get you to do something else rather than watch college football. But I doubt I'm doing a very good job. College football has so many financial resources and media partners at its disposal. And all I've got in my brain, my keyboard, and a too-old laptop.

Sure. . . this technology gives me a platform to try and dissuade you weekly. And sure, without this technology, no one would even know what I was trying to do. But technology is a double-edged sword. It giveth with one port and taketh away with the other. It is modern day magic--a useful tool that only a select few understand and only some are allowed to wield to its fullest extent. The rest of us? Well, we just push plugs into outlets and push power buttons and hope that the digital incantation works as it was promised to do.

Case in point?

I bought a new TV yesterday. Nothing outstanding. Simply a 24 inch Samsung to replace the Emerson brand (what?!!?) 19-inch cathode ray job that we had inherited from Lynda's parents over a decade ago--and which was likely almost a decade old at THAT point. So, even though my new Samsung was absolutely nothing special, it is like replacing a Model A with a new minivan. Both items "do" the same thing. But the Samsung minivan can offer you so much more besides a combustion engine, four wheels, and some seats.

For instance, this Samsung is a Smart TV. And that means it is more complicated. And it means that it needs internet connection to be truly "smart". And that means yet another connection to the home wifi network.

Normally that is not such a problem, right. You follow the on-screen prompts and you select your network name from those of the houses around you. Then you punch in your key code and there you go. A few seconds of the spinning icon, then wham! Netflix on the TV. Stranger Things 2 for everyone!

Unless . . .

What if it doesn't work? Do you know the routers IP address? Do you know the MAC number? How about the DNS setting? Are those even really the problem? Maybe there are simply too many smartphones operating in the house, spreading the wifi juice too thin--like a small amount of butter spread on too much bread. Or maybe your router is down on the main floor in the corner of the house--but your new wifi Smart TV is upstairs in an opposite corner of the house?! That a whole floor of house to transmit through! And how many phones, iPads, laptops, and toaster ovens does that signal have to fight through before you can watch Black Mirror while laying down on your very own bed?

Well--do you know what to do? Because the manual that came with the TV isn't going to be much help. After all, its a pretty general manual--that only covers the very basics of television installation and setup. And besides, you got the M4500 series of television and Samsung has written a manual that covers the M series, as well as the U series, the V series, and maybe a few other alphabets as well. Perhaps you want to go online? Well, good luck finding specific information about your particular model on the Web site. And you can search generic phrases in Google like "Smart TV wifi connect". And you might eventually find some help. But mostly you'll simply find confirmation that there are many, many other people who have fought this battle before you.

So, do like our grandparents did. Go speak to someone in person in an actual store. Maybe they know what to tell you. (But please don't forget to snap a few pictures of your various cables, connections, and ports, so that you can better explain to the clerk how things are set up back at your house. I mean--those smartphones are good for something, right?)

Except . . . uh, oh. Did you forget that the brand new sexy cell phone was released for pre-order just yesterday? And that the store you go to is filled with people wanting to upgrade? Well, you might be waiting for a while. But at least you don't have to dissuade these people from watching college football because they (and their cranky children) are going to be stuck in that store for a while.

But let's say you are lucky--and you get an opportunity to state the nature of your technological emergency to someone when they are putting your name on the waiting list. And that helpful person suggests that you take this number and call the company directly to speak to someone about getting the equipment that you think you need (perhaps a +12 network extender node with an undetectable extension charm for the bag of holding?).

So, go home. Try to verify that fewer people in the house equals a functional wifi connection. (The answer so far is YES.) And then explain your problem to the phone tech you connect with. And hope that the scheduled service call that will happen at your home today will a.) resolve your problem, b.) maybe upgrade your network equipment as necessary, c.) NOT result in an increased monthly bill, and d.) serve as a roadblock to whatever else you might have felt like doing on this day?

Andbutso . . . technology!

It's the future. It's amazing. It's inscrutable magic. And its never going away ore getting simpler.

But . . . whatever else you take away from this story, remember two additional things:

First--no matter how many iPads your offensive line coach has on the sidelines, your alma mater is still going to have trouble transmitting plays to the sophomore quarterback when the game clock is ticking away.

And second--thanks for visiting. Please come back again next week when I have another distraction ready to divert your eyes.